Recovery Nutrition: How to Behave AFTER the Fun.
What you do after training is just as important as what you do during.
It’s easy to do your training, finish and go about your daily business like nothing happened and be just fine. But if you want to really get the most out of your workout and become a better (stronger/faster/fitter/leaner/energized) athlete, well then you don’t just stop… you complete your workout and then you RECOVER.
- Do you finish a workout then spend an hour in the locker room Instagramming your workout and chatting with other gym rats?
- Do you finish a long group ride then spend an hour getting your bike in your car and driving home?
- Do you end a run by collapsing just inside the door and resting for some long amount of time?
- Do you finish your ride, then grab a beer and cook burgers?
- Do you finish a run, shower, get ready then eat a salad?
- Do you leave the gym straight to your car, get stuck in traffic, then make it home forever after you were sweating it out?
Why recovery matters…
Recovering from your workout is equally important as fueling during a workout, hitting your paces, and completing set mileage. During the workout, your muscles have taken a beating. They are tired, torn and worn out. They need to be cared for, replenished and revived. Depending on the workout, this can take 24-48 hours to happen. In order to get stronger, your muscles need to rebuild and this starts with post workout recovery.
Suggestions for a successful recovery
- Your body needs to replenish water stores. Drink up. If possible, weigh yourself before and after the workout to figure out your sweat rate.
- 30 minutes is the ‘optimal’ window to eat food post workout when your body can use the fuel most efficiently. Does that mean if you eat 31 minutes after pressing stop on your Garmin it doesn’t count? No… but if you want to maximize your gains, eat first and ask questions later.
- The recovery window lasts up to 4 hours, but waiting is wasting time. Have something within 30 minutes and follow up with a substantial meal within the next couple hours.
- 3:1 is my suggested ideal ratio of carbs:protein post workout. This allows you to replenish glycogen while providing protein to rebuild muscles.
- 4:1 is great for athletes who train multiple times a day, have higher overall caloric needs, and are maintaining their desired race weight.
- 2:1 is better for strength workouts and cutting calories.
- Do not expect food to magically show up post training.
- Don’t underestimate the time you’ll waste texting, uploading, chatting, changing, etc post workout!
- Instead of bringing along just what you need for the run/ride…stash extra in your pockets for when you finish.
- Driving to the event? Bring along a cooler or shelf stable items for a packed post meal.
- Group event? Make the start/finish at a healthy cafe so that everyone can enjoy a nourishing recovery!
- Don’t overdo it. Remember, you can’t out train bad eating habits.
- Eat what is appropriate for the workout you just accomplished.
- Did you just run 4 miles? Does that mean eat a full pizza?
Don’t Sell Yourself Short.
- Underconsuming is just as bad as overconsuming; both have harmful consequences for your continued health and training.
- Spent 6 hours out on the bike? Don’t just eat half a granola bar afterward and expect to get better.
- Try to track your burn as accurately as possible.
- Consider the time you’ve spent training, did it run through your normal breakfast/lunch/dinner….?
- Spend some time tuning out.
- You just accomplished something great, reflect on it/visualize.
- Zone out.
- Eating isn’t the only important part of recovery.
- Stretching post-workout will allow for better flexibility and blood flow.
- Schedule a massage. If possible, aim to receive massage post workouts, at least, hard workouts.
- Ice baths. I swear by these. Nothing makes the muscles refresh and bounce back quicker than sitting in ice & water.
- Yeah, it’s important.
- Everyone knows that pro athletes nap often. Well, they don’t just do it because they can, but they know they need to.
- Schedule your hard workouts to accommodate a quick post workout power nap.
My Experience Recovering with Cocoa Elite
Cocoa Elite is a new product that merges old standbys: cocoa + milk. We all know that chocolate milk is a nutritious option for post-workout refueling and recovery. However, what about when you’re out training away from home, away from gas stations and cafes?… or when you forgot to get to the store and buy chocolate milk to put in your fridge? Or when you open the milk you had in the fridge and it smells…well worse than your sweaty training gear?
In my guide to recovery, I discussed the importance of recovery and making sure you plan for these mishaps, but here is a product that has me hooked. I’m not too keen on products. I have a protein powder I love (Tera’s Whey), a gel I love (Honey Stinger), other than that, I stick to whole foods and try to stay away from the processed bars, powders, and other gimmicky items.
Enter Cocoa Elite. It’s pretty cool really. Dry milk + cocoa = yum! Cocoa is full of antioxidants and flavonoids; powerful phyto-properties that enhance the way our bodies function, specifically creating healthy blood vessels as well as clearing out free radicals. Not to mention the tasty chocolate milk flavor we all love. The dry milk is a super great concept. When mixed with water, it creates CHOCOLATE MILK! Brilliant right? No lugging a cooler or milk or any of it. Just mix this into your water bottle and enjoy your perfect combo of recovery carbs and protein. Another standout about Cocoa Elite is that this powder boasts 12g of protein per serving. It doesn’t flood the body with protein, it provides just enough for immediate recovery.
After a recent winter ride that started in 24-degree temps and did not warm up much… I was COLD and needed warmth and a recovery meal. Since the ride began at a Starbucks, typically I’d go in and grab a beverage… but let’s face it, that gets pricey and the drinks are super loaded with sugar and processed flavoring. Instead, I packed a single serving packet of Cocoa Elite Complete Body Recovery Protein and my coffee mug. Post ride, I scurried into the Starbucks and politely requested hot water which I added my packet to and stirred thoroughly. The flavor is mellow, not overly chocolatey and not at all chalky or syrupy. I was able to slowly sip the hot mixture and recover as I drove home. After trying it, I’m a fan and have gone on to use it more often in my training routine.
While all you need to do is mix with water, here is a smoothie recipe using the product. Try it out!!
Cocoa Elite Recovery Shake
Ingredients: Serves 2
+ 2 scoops Cocoa Elite Recovery Protein
+ 1 cup Cold Brew Coffee
+ 1/2 cup Water
+ 1 tsp Cinnamon
+ 1 Banana
+ 1/4 tsp salt
Blend ingredients until smooth. ENJOY!
+ Make it Extra Special
Freeze ripe bananas before using in smoothies to create a thicker, creamier drink.
Lori Nedescu is a Sports Oriented Registered Dietitian. Lori has assisted numerous individuals and mentored several athletic teams. She has helped guide them on how to improve their overall wellness, health, and athletic performance through better nutrition and diet quality. She created The Cadence Kitchen as a platform to provide her expertise to those who wish to change or adjust their lifestyle through fitness, diet and wellness. She is an elite marathoner and a competitive CAT 2 cyclist.
We are happy to have her as a Cocoa Elite Ambassador!