Feb 3, 2017
Recovery Snacks
Michelle Rockwell

Recovery nutrition is best thought of as a window of opportunity. Research has found that in the approximately 30 minutes after intense exercise, the body optimizes its ability to replenish energy stores – particularly muscle and liver glycogen. This is also a critical time because the body instigates muscle protein synthesis for muscle tissue recovery and repair, replenishes fluids and electrolytes lost through sweat, and adapts to the stresses encountered in the workout.

The quantity and quality of nutrients and fluids consumed in the post-exercise period greatly affects recovery. And the longer and more intense a workout, the more important it is to kick-start the body’s recovery and replenishment mechanisms with adequate fueling. The three most important components of recovery nutrition are carbohydrates, protein, and fluids/electrolytes.

Here are some specific recovery carbs and proteins that athletes can use:


Each item listed below contains roughly 50 grams of carbohydrates. Athletes should consume .5 to .7 grams of carbs per pound of body weight within 30 minutes after exercise to promote optimal recovery.


3 slices of white bread

2 pancakes or 2 pieces of French toast

Large muffin

2 pieces of fresh fruit

1 cup of cold cereal (check labels)

1 sports bar or 2 small granola bars (check labels)

10 ounces of fruit juice

16 ounces of chocolate or strawberry milk


Each item on this list contains roughly 10 grams of protein. An optimal recovery meal consumed within 30 minutes after a workout should contain 10 to 20 grams of protein.

1 ounce of meat/poultry/fish/seafood

2 eggs or 2 egg whites

8 ounces of milk (dairy or soy)

1 cup of yogurt

½ cup of beans

½ cup of hummus

1 sports bar (check labels)

1/3 cup of nuts or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter

Michelle Rockwell, MS, RD, CSSD, is Instructor and Graduate Program Coordinator at Virginia Tech and Owner at Michelle Rockwell Nutrition.

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