It was a beautiful spring day and you just returned home from a tough, forty-mile bike ride. It was great to get outside and give yourself a decent workout, but upon returning home you realize that you have a ton of things to do. You start running errands, taking care of your kids, cleaning the house and all of a sudden you realize two hours have gone by and you haven’t eaten or drank anything since your ride. No big deal, you’ll eat and drink later, right? Wrong! Making sure you eat, drink and replenish your body with the right fuel shortly after a ride will help you recover properly and keep you feeling strong day after day in your training.
Hydration immediately following a workout is key!
Drinking at least 16oz of water within fifteen minutes after completing your workout is immensely helpful to jump start your recovery. You need to replace the fluids lost during the ride in order to recover properly. If it was a longer ride where you actually dropped a couple of pounds of water weight, you should try to drink 16oz of water for every pound you lost during the ride. Recovery drinks and powders that you can add to water will offer you the dual benefit of replenishing your fluids as well as giving your body some of the carbohydrates and protein it needs to rebuild your muscles. You should make sure that the recovery drink or powder that you use does contain both protein and carbohydrates. Furthermore, you may want to look for powders that contain some sodium, as this will help your body retain some of the fluids you took in after the ride as opposed to them just quickly running through your system. A couple of examples of these types of drinks are Recoverite made by Hammer Nutrition and Osmo Hydration’s protein powder (which is specifically formulated for women).
Simple carbohydrates allow your body to start replenishing glycogen quickly!
When you ride you deplete your body of glycogen which is needed to fuel your workout. Glycogen is quite simply the main form of stored glucose and carbohydrates in your body which is turned to energy and expended during a workout. Eating simple carbohydrates shortly after a workout will help give your body the fuel it needs to start replacing the glycogen used during your training. You want to specifically have simple carbohydrates and sugars right after your workout because these are easily and quickly absorbed into the body. Foods like white rice or even a drink like chocolate milk give the body a quick and easily digestible source of carbohydrates. Studies have shown that the body is most receptive to replenishing glycogen within the first 30 minutes after a workout or race, so making sure you get these carbs into your system shortly after your workout is vital.
Protein is essential for your muscles to rebuild!
Last, but not least, protein is also needed to help the muscles rebuild and gain the greatest benefit from your workout. A lean protein like chicken is great, but sometimes, if you are at an event or race you won’t have food like that readily available. If do find yourself in that situation, bring some kind of post workout snack with you that contains protein. Nuts or any nutrition bar containing nuts is usually a great option. These generally don’t need refrigeration and can be left in your car while you are out racing or riding. If you do finish your workout back at home, having some chicken and white rice or even a fruit smoothie with a scoop of whey protein is a great way to kick off your recovery. Later having some more additional protein and complex carbs like sweet potato or brown rice will continue the protein and glycogen replenishment.
The magic numbers are a ration of 4:1 carbohydrate to protein. If you can come close to this ratio with your post ride nutrition, then you are doing the most you can to help your body recover. However, more simply, make sure you are drinking water and having some kind of simple carbohydrates and protein within an hour of finishing your race or workout. You can easily grab a bottle of water and a fruit and nut bar on the way out your door to run your errands, rather than eating and drinking nothing for hours. This will give your body the boost it needs to help you perform at your best day after day throughout your racing and training.