Coaching Association of Canada

Optimizing Your Recovery Routine

Fluids, Carbs, and Protein: The Post-Workout Dream Team

Recovery is an essential part of any performance-focused fitness routine – so important that many athletes treat it as part of the workout itself. Your goal during recovery is to help your body heal and regroup. It’s not the workout alone, but the body’s adaptive response to it, that increases endurance, strength, and builds muscle.

A growing body of research in the area of athletic recovery and nutrition reinforces the effectiveness of a combination of carbohydrates and protein in post-workout nutrition, whether it is the snack you have right away or the meal following the workout. Chocolate milk is an example of an ideal recovery food as it contains a good balance between carbohydrates and protein. In fact, specific studies have linked chocolate milk to three main benefits related to exercise recovery and enhanced performance.

1. Fluids to rehydrate

Being well-hydrated is not only important for overall health, it can actually improve performance as well. During exercise, your body loses fluids and electrolytes mainly from sweat loss. The longer and more intense your workout, the more you need to replenish fluids. Keep sipping fluids after training until your urine is the colour of pale lemon juice; a variety of fluids can do the trick - like chocolate milk.

2. Carbohydrates to refuel

Refueling with carbohydrates has long been known to restore muscle glycogen, the energy burned during physical activity. Quick absorbing, liquid forms of carbohydrate, such as chocolate milk, may restore glycogen faster than solid foods. The evidence continues to show that consuming carbohydrates within 30 minutes of intense exercise helps to increase endurance capacity and performance, especially when workouts are scheduled daily.

3. Protein to recharge

Hard-working muscles need protein to grow and repair after training. Because a 250 mL glass of chocolate milk naturally contains as much protein as a large egg, it’s a good choice for post-workout recovery. There has been a great deal of research into this area of performance nutrition, and studies confirm that drinking chocolate milk after resistance exercise promotes muscle gain and increases lean body mass.

References:
1. Milk as an effective post-exercise rehydration drink. Br J Nutr 2007;98(1):173-80.
2. A comparison of the effects of milk and a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink on the restoration of fluid balance and exercise capacity in a hot, humid environment. Eur J Appl Physiol 2008;104:633-642.
3. The science of post-workout nutrition-phase III-grade A low fat milk with attitude. Stout, JR.
4. Recharge and replenish-recovery nutrition. Sport Nutrition Tip of the Month. August 2011. https://www.coach.ca/recharge-and-replenishrecovery-nutrition-p154667
5. Fluids and foods after training/competition. SNAC (Sport Nutrition Advisory Committee)- March 2006 https://www.coach.ca/fluids-andfoods-after-training-competition-p154681
6. Eating for recovery. Nutrition Fact Sheet, issue 1, April 2009. Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition. American Dietetic Association.
7. Nutrition for optimal exercise recovery. .McKinley Health Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: HEd. ILL-189. 04-02-2008
8. Chocolate milk: a post-exercise recovery beverage for endurance sports. Med Sport Sci; 2012; 59:127-34.
9. Building a beverage for recovery from endurance activity: a review. J Strength Cond Res 2011; Nov;25(11):3198-204.
10. Running Recovery Extreme: How to Bounce Back From Hard Training Quickly. Jason Fitzgerald