Exercise: Recovery Nutrition After Intense Daily Training

January 11, 2017   /
Megan Mangano, RD, CSSD
Nutrition411 Staff

The goal of recovery nutrition is to convert the body from a catabolic state (breakdown) to an anabolic state (building). Immediately after exercise, the window is open for nutrient delivery to muscle cells. Recovery is a two-step process—a meal or snack immediately after training, followed by a meal approximately 1 hour later. A carbohydrate and protein snack immediately after exercise will:

  • Decrease core temperature
  • Rehydrate
  • Restore energy and fuel
  • Rebuild muscle
  • Reduce muscle damage
  • Speed muscle repair
  • Keep you healthy
  • Improve performance


Nutrients needs for recovery

Here are some different ways to estimate nutrient needs for recovery based on body weight.


1.2-1.5 grams (g)/kilogram (kg) nutrition repletion factor:

Provided by a combination of carbohydrate and protein immediately after activity, equivalent to:

  • 8 g/kg of carbohydrate post-strength training or 0.9-1.2 g/kg carbohydrate post-endurance training
  • 0.3-0.4 g/kg of protein post-training


2:1 to 4:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio:

This is equivalent to:

  • 15-25 g protein
  • 45-75 g carbohydrate


With intense training, fluids and electrolytes are lost from perspiration. To identify fluid needs, weigh yourself before and after training and consume at least 1.5 pints of fluid for each pound lost. If exercise lasts for more than 1 hour, electrolytes, such as sodium, will need replacing. A beverage that contains sodium can meet both needs.

After exercise

Ideas for a snack immediately after exercise include:

  • Chocolate milk
  • Recovery shake
  • Sandwich
  • Trail mix

Recovery is not complete until you eat a meal approximately 1 hour later.

References and recommended readings

Carlson-Phillips A. The new science of recovery nutrition. Exos website. http://www.coreperformance.com/knowledge/nutrition/recovery-nutrition.html. Published October 19, 2009. Accessed June 12, 2014.

Dorfman L. Nutrition in exercise and sports performance. In: Mahan LK, Escott-Stump S, Raymond JL. Krause’s Food and the Nutrition Care Process. 13th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:507-530.

Eating for recovery. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=7082. Accessed June 12, 2014.

Williams MH. Sports nutrition. In: Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins RJ, Tucker KL, Ziegler TR. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 13th ed. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2014:1549-1563.


Adapted with permission from the Athletes’ Performance Nutrition Team