The Importance of Recovery Nutrition

If you are someone who trains and/or competes in a sport or a range of sports, you likely want to get the most benefit out of your workouts. You train hard, dedicate the time, and you want to see yourself getting stronger and faster as a result. Sure, you probably already know that pushing yourself physically to new limits can help you to achieve this. But did you know that how and when you refuel with nutrition after your training sessions and competitions is another crucial piece of enhancing your performance?
This is where recovery food comes in! If your aim is to build and/or maintain muscle mass and improve your performance when training with moderate to high intensity sessions, your recovery nutrition is an essential factor to consider.

In simple terms, recovery nutrition involves a beverage, meal, or snack consumed shortly after a training session or competition.

Why is recovery nutrition so important?
During moderate to high intensity exercise, the body’s natural energy stores, such as glycogen – a carbohydrate molecule stored in the liver and muscle cells – gets used up and needs to be replenished. In addition, muscle fibers are broken down and need to be rebuilt and repaired. While this repairing process can be mediated by regular recovery methods (sleep, hydration, stretching), without proper nutrition, the rebuilding process will be stunted and your muscles will not be as strong as they should be (& as we want them to be!).

For you athletes who train multiple days in a row, or multiple times a day, recovery nutrition is essential to jump-start muscle protein synthesis (aka muscle building) and restore the body’s energy stores, so that you can tackle your next training session with ease.

There are two main things to consider with post workout nutrition are: content & timing.

What you eat:
In regards to content, an ideal recovery snack or meal will include both a source of protein and carbohydrates (1). The ideal ratio is 1 gram of protein to 2-4 g of carbohydrates; aim for the higher end of carbohydrates with more intense exercise (i.e. long distance running, powerlifting) (2).
Your meal or snack should be low in fat and fiber because these nutrients slow down digestion. Slow digestion is not ideal after a training session as you want your muscle cells to be fed as soon as possible.

  • Greek yogurt + banana
  • Tuna + rice cakes
  • Recovery smoothie (soy milk + berries + spinach + banana is an awesome combo!)
  • Grilled chicken + roasted sweet potato
  • Protein bar
  • Salmon + brown rice
  • Protein shake + fruit 
When you eat:
In regards to timing, consume your post-workout snack within 30 minutes to 2 hours of completing your workout (1).
Something to keep in mind: if you had a meal shortly before your training session (say 1 hour before), then you can be a bit more lenient with this window (aim for 2 hours after to have your recovery nutrition).
Recipe: Protein Banana Bread
Struggling to find a pre/post workout snack? Bored of what you’re currently eating?
Then you should definitely try this banana bread recipe! It’s
 perfect for a pre/post training snack, is a great source of carbs & protein, is low in fat (optimal training macros!) & it can also makes a good breakfast option topped with your favorite nut butter.   
1 cup oat flour

1/4 cup Whey Protein (vanilla or unflavored)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp ground flax
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 large banana, mashed
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 honey or maple syrup
Extras: chocolate chips, blueberries, coconut shreds


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl.
  • Whisk the egg white in a bowl until soft peaks form. In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine remaining wet ingredients. Fold in the egg white.
  • Add dry ingredients into wet mixture, being careful not to over-mix. Pour into a greased baking dish. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. Enjoy!
  • Banana bread will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
Blog written by : Leigh Merotto
FF6S Nutrition Coach
1. Kerksick, C., Harvey, T., Stout, J., Campbell, B., Wilborn, C., Kreider, R., Antonio, J. International society of sports nutrition position stand: Nutrient timing. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2008, 5, 17. (doi:10.1186/1550-2783-5-17)
2. Thomas, D. T., Erdman, K. A., & Burke, L. M. Position of the academy of nutrition and dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the american college of sports medicine: Nutrition and athletic performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2016, 116, 501. (doi:10.1016/j.jand.2015.12.006)
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