Refuel, rehydrate, recover

The post-workout recovery phase—known as the “refueling interval” or RFI—is just as important as the workout itself. Refueling with the right nutrients can help your body repair damaged muscles, build more muscle, and replace nutrients (glycogen, electrolytes, and fluids) lost during exercise to prepare you for your next workout or mission. Here are some guidelines:

  • When? Eat within 45 minutes after exercise lasting one hour or more.
  • What? A combination of protein and carbs in a snack is the key for recovery. Foods containing 25–50 grams of carbohydrates and 20–25 grams protein are the key. A mix of quick-digesting carbs (fast carbs) and slower-digesting, higher-fiber carbs (slow carbs) is best. It’s also important to drink enough fluids for rehydration.
  • Where? Post-workout recovery foods are readily available: at home, convenience stores, and even fast-food restaurants. No special prep is required.
  • Why? Exercise can use up your body’s stores of glycogen, electrolytes, and fluids, so you need refueling to prepare for the next challenge.

Here are some ideas for recovery snack options:

  • Tuna, crackers, and an apple
  • Oatmeal with milk
  • Chocolate milk and an apple or pear
  • Peanut butter and banana on whole-grain bread
  • Tortillas, refried beans, cheese, and salsa
  • Low-fat yogurt with granola and berries
  • Stir-fried tofu and veggies with rice
  • Turkey and cheese sub (6")
  • Eggs on whole-grain English muffin, 0.5 oz raisins

A final note: If you plan to have a meal within 2 hours of your exercise, you can skip the post-workout snack. Otherwise, you might be eating too many calories, which would spoil all your hard work.