Recover and Recharge


Recover and Recharge

By Patricia Chuey, Senior Nutrition Consultant, SportMedBC

Step 7 in the staircase to Sun Run victory is one on which we’re going to sit down and take a well-earned rest.

Although regular exercise is without a doubt one of the single most important means to improved health, in the short term it puts significant wear and tear on the body. Required fluid and electrolytes are lost through sweat, fuel stored in the muscles is depleted and muscle tissue can be damaged. Sport nutrition experts feel that what you eat and drink after exercise in preparation for workouts on subsequent days is even more important than what is eaten before exercise. If you’re dehydrated and glycogen-depleted, your body won’t perform well. Ask yourself how recovered you feel before starting your next workout. Do you have a recovery plan that you follow after all workouts? How is your energy overall?

The one hour period immediately following a hard bout of exercise is known as the “recovery window.” In this time slot, blood flow is greater and muscle cells are more insulin-sensitive, making it the ideal time to replace used energy.

An optimal recovery plan addresses 3 elements:


1.       Rehydration.

2.       Replacement of carbohydrates along with a little protein. Ideally in a 2:1 ratio.

3.       Replacement of lost electrolytes.


In the first hour after exercise, drink one to two cups of water. If you like sports drinks, this is an appropriate time to use them as they will replace fluids while supplying carbs and electrolytes. Electrolytes are potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium, chloride and bicarbonate found in the body that help control fluid balance and the conduction of nerves. A lack of electrolytes can result in cramping and in extreme cases, life-threatening fluid imbalances. Chocolate milk is thought to be an ideal recovery beverage as it covers all three desired elements of a good recovery plan. Great recovery snacks include at least 1 part protein for 2 parts carbs. Some examples:


·         Yogurt + fruit + water   

·         A banana + whole wheat crackers + peanut butter + water

·         Cereal + milk + berries + water

·         Turkey and vegetable sandwich + water

·         A well-balanced meal


If you won’t be at home or near a food source in the first hour after training, always pack along fluids and snacks to optimize the recovery window and replace energy in good time for your next workout.


Google “science of recovery nutrition” to find more specifics on nutritional recovery or visit


Follow @patriciachuey on Twitter or find her at



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