Recovery is fundamental to progress. You can put in as much riding time as you like, but unless you recover well too, you will not see the sought-after improvements. A substantial part of effective recovery is the food that you consume—both in the hours and days after a hard training session.
This blog post considers nutritional intake immediately after exercise—in a bid to kick-start your body’s recovery. For further recipe and meal ideas, and nutrition recommendations, take a look on the Advice page.
Fast Protein and Glycogen
On finishing a hard ride, your muscles are fatigued, and your energy stores depleted. In order to start the recovery process as quickly as possible you want to get protein and carbohydrate to them while the blood is still pumping, and your metabolism is raised.
This means taking on between 15-25 grams of protein and 30 grams of carbohydrate within 25 mins of stopping. This can be a tough ask though, as all you may want to do is have a hot bath, wash your bike, or collapse on the sofa…
Below are a few effective ways of getting protein and carbohydrates into your system, fast.
Powdered Protein Shakes
One of the best tasting and most nutritionally balanced protein shakes I have used is Fuel10K’s Complete Meal. It is light to the taste and easy to mix with water; whilst supplying an impressive 26 grams of protein, 8.5 grams of fibre, and glycogen from natural oats per serving.
The added benefit of a protein shake over a protein bar is that it also helps you hydrate—our bodies are made of 70% water—which means our muscles need to be sufficiently hydrated to recover.
- 300 ml Dairy Milk — packed with protein, calcium, and vitamins
- 1 Frozen Banana — high in magnesium to ward off post activity muscle cramps
- 1/2 Cup Oats — the best slow release energy
- 1 tsp Runny Honey — for some added sweetness
- Blend all the ingredients together in a Nutribullet or similar blender
Protein Packed Lunches
For those that finish a hard training session at noon, then a protein-packed lunch can be a good substitute to a specific protein supplement.
Below are three cheap ideas for tasty and healthy protein-rich lunches:
Poached Eggs on Toast
Beans on Toast
The lesson is simple really… once you get back from your ride you need to eat something that is rich in protein, carbohydrates, and nutrients—to help your body start recovering as effectively and quickly as possible.
There are a number of ways of doing that, and they do not have to cost the earth. The consequence of not doing them though, can cost your cycling performance dearly. Recovery nutrition is key.