Sports Nutrition After Competition

Christopher D. Jensen, PhD, MPH, RD
Your recovery process should start as soon as your workout or competition is over. You need carbohydrates to replenish depleted fuel stores, protein to help repair damaged muscle tissue and to develop new muscle tissue, and fluids and sodium to rehydrate. Proper recovery nutrition will benefit your next workout or event.

Tips to Keep in Mind
  1. Consume a carbohydrate snack or meal as soon as possible after exercise to help replenish depleted muscle glycogen stores.
  2. Repeat this at 2‐hour intervals for up to 6 hours if you plan on intense exercise again within the next 24 hours, otherwise resume normal meals within 2 hours.
  3. Consume 15‐25 grams of high‐quality protein within an hour after exercise to maximize muscle rebuilding and repair process for both endurance and strength training sessions. Try going by the 20/20 Rule of thumb: consume 20 grams of protein within 20 minutes of completing your training.
  4. Replace lost fluids by consuming water or a sports beverage after training. At a comfortable pace drink 16 – 24 fl oz of fluids for every pound lost during training. Consuming salty foods during meals and snacks along with a sports beverage will help replace fluid and electrolyte losses.
  5. If you don’t have an appetite after exercise, try a fruit smoothie, low‐fat chocolate milk, or PowerBar® Recovery Sports Drink to help jumpstart your recovery process.

Consult this chart as a snapshot to recovery nutrition after training.
Carbs Protein Fluids Eletrolytes
0.5‐0.7 g/lb. 15‐25 g 16‐24 fl oz per lb. lost Sports drinks plus regular foods and salty snacks.


Sample Snacks and Meals to Consider

Below are some ideas for what you could be eating within 30 minutes of exercise to help speed recovery:
Snack Examples:
Meal Examples:
  • Medium bagel with 2 Tbsp peanut butter and jelly, a medium banana, and 1 cup fruit juice
  • Grilled chicken sandwich, 1 cup fresh mixed fruit, and a baked potato with low‐fat sour cream or salsa
  • 2 slices thick‐crust cheese pizza, 1 cup low‐fat gelato, and 1 cup fruit
  • Turkey sandwich with tomato, lettuce, and mustard, 1 oz baked chips, 1 cup fruit juice and ½ cup low‐fat frozen yogurt
  • 3 oz baked or grilled beef, chicken, turkey, or fish, 1 cup steamed rice, and 1 cup cooked vegetables

References:
  1. ACSM Position Paper 2009.
  2. Burke, L. Practical Sports Nutrition.
  3. Burke, L., Deakin, V. Clinical Sports Nutrition 3rd ed.
  4. International Olympic Committee Consensus Statement on Sports Nutrition 2010.
  5. USDA Handbook 8.
About The Author

Dr. Jensen manages health-related research studies at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Northern California. He is also a sports nutrition writer and has years of experience in the design and testing of sports nutrition products. Dr. Jensen is a recreational runner and former basketball player.

Fun Fact: Chris loves running on the beach and playing the drums.

Information presented by PowerBar is intended to impart general sports nutrition and training information. PowerBar is not engaged in rendering medical advice or services. Be sure to consult your doctor as needed, including when undertaking a new diet or training program. Advance consultation with your doctor is particularly important if you are under eighteen (18), pregnant, breastfeeding, or have health problems. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on PowerBar’s site.