You have just completed a long and energizing workout, you are covered in sweat and…now what? Should you drink water alone? A commercial sports drink or possibly something else? And if so, how much post-workout recovery do you need to be able to function at your best day after day? In the midst of the low carb/no carb nutrition fad, the answer might surprise you!
If a strenuous daily fitness workout is part of your daily routine, your body is depleting glycogen stores on a regular basis. Glycogen is simply the form carbohydrates take when they have been stored in the liver and muscle cells. When the body goes to work and needs carbohydrate energy, glycogen is then converted to glucose to be used by the body for fuel.
The recommendations for strenuous post-exercise recovery as published by the National Academy of Sports Medicine include the following:
- Men should drink approximately 13 cups of water daily for basic hydration. Women should drink about 9 cups,
- After exercise, it is recommended to drink 16-24 ounces of water for every pound of body mass lost during exercise,
- Additionally, an athlete (and yes if you are working out for long periods of time daily, you can call yourself an athlete) should consume 1.5 g/kg of carbohydrate within 30 minutes of exercise. Studies have shown that waiting longer than 2 hours to consume carbohydrates post-exercise can decrease the full restoration of glycogen by as much as 66%,
- Furthermore, meals including 1.5 g/kg carbohydrate should be included every 2 hours until full recovery is achieved.
A 135 lb athlete weighs 61.36 kg.
61.36-x 1.5= 92 grams of carbohydrate should be consumed within 30 minutes of exercise.
Most of us are not placing the kind of demands on our bodies (unless you are training for a distance run or similar activity) on a daily basis to require this high level of carbohydrate replenishment. Lower levels of exercise, however, does not totally eliminate the need for glycogen replenishment. I have personally used the P90X Results and Recovery Formula for over 5 years and notice a significant improvement in my energy and decrease in my muscle soreness when I drink a glass within 30 minutes of my daily workouts. Results and Recovery has the additional benefit of including 10 grams of protein per serving. During hot Georgia summers when I am outside for long hours, I will even add a scoop of Recovery to my water bottle to keep me energized and alert for my horses!
My rule of thumb is if I am actively involved in fitness for over an hour, I will add 1-2 scoops of Recovery Formula to my water. If I workout 30-60 minutes in heat or am really sweating, I add 1/2-1 scoop to my water. Anything less than that and water alone works just fine for me. As each person is an individual, you may have to adjust the amounts a bit to see what gives you the best post-workout recovery and leaves you feeling energized and ready to give it your best the next day.
There are several products on the market-just be sure to read the label and make sure you are getting your carbohydrate replenishment from clean sources. I choose to avoid any recovery products that includes high fructose corn syrup as a part of the carbohydrate resource.