The importance of nutrition in your ride recovery

Porridge with bananaEarlier this year I attended a women’s training camp and met sports dietician  Rebecca Hay from The Athlete’s Kitchen. Rebecca kindly volunteered to write a few blog posts for WWC and here’s her first contribution about recovering from a ride………

How do you recover after a ride?  There is a lot of information around how best to recover …but how do you know if it is correct?

Despite what you often read carbohydrate should make up the bulk of what you consume. It is used to fill muscles up again with glycogen – this is muscle fuel.  You will empty almost all your muscle glycogen after an intense 60 minute exercise session or after 90 to 120 minutes of a moderate session.

A small amount of good quality protein must also be consumed in recovery to repair any muscle damage done while exercising.  While fat is not an important specifically for recovery, a small amount will definitely make you recovery meal taste better.

With these things in mind….what do you choose? On a practical level most bike rides are done first thing in the morning – so breakfast is typically “the” recovery meal. In this situation I recommend choosing a food based meal for recovery rather than a shake or meal replacement.  This would suit a female around 60 to 65 kg.

Some examples:

  • Wholegrain toast with baked beans and a tub of low fat yoghurt
  • Porridge (made with low fat milk) with sliced banana, walnuts and a dash of honey.
  • Wholegrain toast with 2 poached eggs and a tub of low fat yoghurt
  • Commercial cereal with low fat milk and some low fat yoghurt plus a piece of fruit.

The timing of a recovery meal is also important.  If you plan to train again within 8 to 12 hours then you need to consume the recovery meal within 30 minutes of getting off your bike.  The window for recovery is wider if training is not for another 24 hours or longer – getting the recovery meal in within 2 hours is sufficient in this situation.

A carton of chocolate milk or a commercial recovery drink can be used if the recovery meal is not going to fit within the above time frame.

Recovery is simply making sure the right nutrients are being consumed within the appropriate time frame.

You can contact Rebecca via her website.