In contrast with low GI foods for pre-workout meals, high GI foods are recommended for post-workout meals as they are rapidly digested and absorbed which in turn raise blood glucose levels and releases fast energy promoting a fast recovery of muscle glycogen stores. A fast recovery promotes ability and performance in preparation for the next training session, overall minimizing fatigue.
Within the first hour post-training, athletes should consume 1-1.2g of carbohydrate per body weight kg due to effective glycogen synthesis during this period, stimulating an increase in insulin (AIS Sport Nutrition, 2009d). Additionally, 15-25g of high quality protein providing essential amino acids during this period enhances the uptake and retention of amino acids and promotes the rebuilding of protein over the next 24 hours.
Not only does post-work out nutrition assist in the recovery phase, it reduces the stress hormone response to exercise and supplies glucose to white cells supporting the immune system. It is recommended for the post-workout meal that the protein and carbohydrate be combined as the increase in insulin stimulates the muscles to take up amino acids (AIS Sport Nutrition, 2009d; AIS Sport Nutrition, 2009a). Additionally, a source of potassium is recommended for this meal to replenish potassium losses during training (Fink, Mikesky & Burgoon, 2012).
Options for post-work out meals include (containing 50g CHO + valuable source of protein and micronutrients):
- 250-300ml liquid meal supplement
- 300g creamed rice
- 250-300ml milk shake or fruit smoothie
- 600ml low fat flavoured milk
- 1-2 sports bars (check labels for carbohydrate and protein content)
- 1 large bowl (2 cups) breakfast cereal with milk
- 1 large or 2 small cereal bars + 200g carton fruit-flavoured yoghurt
- 220g baked beans on 2 slices of toast
- 1 bread roll with cheese/meat filling + large banana
- 300g (bowl) fruit salad with 200g fruit-flavoured yoghurt
- 300g (large) baked potato + cottage cheese filling + glass of milk (AIS Sport Nutrition, 2009d).
In addition to a post-workout meal it is important to rehydrate after a training session. To estimate the amount of fluid required to replenish losses, athletes can weigh themselves prior to training and again after training, then consume 150% of this deficit over the next 4-6 hours to replenish losses during training and over this period. This method does not require complex calculation, as one kilogram (kg) is approximately equivalent to one litre of fluid (L) (AIS Sport Nutrition, 2009c).
AIS Sports Nutrition. (2009a). Protein. Australian Government: Department of Sports Nutrition Retrieved from https://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/sports_nutrition/fact_sheets/protein_-_how_much
AIS Sport Nutrition. (2009c). Fluid – who needs it. Australian Government: Department of Sports Nutrition. Retrieved from https://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/sports_nutrition/fact_sheets/fluid_-_who_needs_it
AIS Sport Nutrition. (2009d). Recovery Nutrition. Australian Government: Department of Sports Nutrition. Retrieved from https://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/sports_nutrition/fact_sheets/recovery_nutrition
Fink, H., Mikesky, A. and Burgoon, L. (2012).Practical Applications In Sport Nutrition (3rd Ed.). Jones & Bartlett Publishers.