The 3Rs - Recovery!

In her latest article, Jasmine explains her essentials of recovery.
Recovery, the 3Rs
After training and competition your body needs to adapt from the stress of that exercise, refuel and rehydrate accordingly. So recovering well is essential in which nutrition plays a large part. Be organised so that once you finish training or after the competition you can employ the three R’s of Recovery and be ready for that next session.
An obvious one but there are some important considerations to make sure you optimise your rehydration strategy and can adapt it to differing situations.
Individuals vary greatly so it important to understand your needs to benefit both race and recovery by working out your sweat rate and how much of a salty sweater you may not or may not be. You will know if you are a salty sweater if you get white salt crystals on your skin and/or your clothes once the sweat dries and if that’s the case you require slightly more electrolytes in your fluid. Now to work out your sweat rate:
  • Weigh yourself before and after training (without going to toilet or taking on any food and fluid in between). Take notes on duration, intensity and the climate.
  • Aim to drink 1.5 times the weight you lost. For example, if you have lost 0.6kg (600g) in weight: 600 x 1.5 = 900g, which would require 900ml (0.9L) of water with electrolytes (remember 1ml or water is 1gram in weight).
It is not ideal to down the fluids you need in one go, try to sip. Think about rehydrating over a period of time depending on how much you need to drink, which could take you up to 6hrs. If you train in the evening, then drinking a large volume of fluid before bed can disrupt your sleep. With sleep being vital day to day and for recovery from exercise, look to rehydrate partially before bed and then continue the next day maybe with an electrolyte tablet in water first thing as to not risk disrupting your sleep. If you struggle to drink water, try and find something to make the fluid more palatable like adding slices of lemon, cucumber, mint or use sugar free/no added sugar cordial.


Glycogen is stored energy in the muscles and the main source of fuel during moderate to high intensity exercise. This energy store becomes depleted after training/competition. So in most cases you need to replenish it to put you in the optimal position to perform well in the next session. This can be done by consuming carbohydrates almost immediately post exercise. Enhance replenishing your muscle glycogen stores by:
  • Start consuming carbohydrates within 60minutes of finishing the exercise. If you leave it to later, resynthesis rate is much lower and you will struggle to completely refuel.
  • Try to have 1.2g of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight per hour. For example, for a 75kg person that is 90grams per hour. You may change the amount of hours your feed carbohydrate depending on exercise intensity and duration.
  • Consuming both high and low GI carbohydrates. High GI carbohydrates are more likely to be in a drinkable form and taste nicer, making it easier to get them in. Also including high GI carbohydrates initially increases the amount of glycogen stored back in the muscle.
  • Consuming some protein too (see Rebuild below) as it can help to elevate the rate of glycogen resynthesis.
Amino acids are required in order for the muscle tissue to grow to create proteins for the muscle to adapt from the stress of exercise (long term recovery). It is important for endurance athletes and not just for body builders because it is also about helping the muscle. Make sure:
  • You have at least 20 g of protein after the exercise (more is not necessarily better).
  • The source is high quality protein, which means it has a full profile of the nine essential amino acids such as dairy proteins (whey and caesin protein), meat, fish, eggs. Alternatives to animal products could be plant based proteins such hemp, soy and pea.
All three Recovery Rs go hand in hand and compromising one can compromise another. So start to get into the habit of always thinking about the 3Rs post training/race - you’ll find this requires some forward thinking. If you have a reduced appetite after exercise, then think about a nice tasting drinkable form of the above (recovery shake). Also be careful not to sabotage your efforts to recover well with alcohol and not getting a good night’s sleep!
Coming soon the 4th R of Recovery… 
Beelen, M., Burke, L.M., Gibala, M.J. and Van Loon, L.J., 2010. Nutritional strategies to promote postexercise recovery. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 20(6), pp.515-32.
Berardi, J.M., Price, T.B., Noreen, E.E. and Lemon, P.W., 2006. Post Exercise Muscle Glycogen Recovery Enhanced with a Carbohydrate-Protein Supplement. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38(6), p.1106.
Burke, L.M., Collier, G.R., Broad, E.M., Davis, P.G., Martin, D.T., Sanigorski, A.J. and Hargreaves, M., 2003. Effect of alcohol intake on muscle glycogen storage after prolonged exercise. Journal of applied physiology, 95(3), pp.983-990.
Jentjens, R. and Jeukendrup, A.E., 2003. Determinants of post-exercise glycogen synthesis during short-term recovery. Sports Medicine, 33(2), pp.117-144.
Saunders, M.J., Kane, M.D. and Todd, M.K., 2004. Effects of a carbohydrate-protein beverage on cycling endurance and muscle damage. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise., 36(7), pp.1233-1238.
Rowlands, D.S., Nelson, A.R., Phillips, S.M., Faulkner, J.A., Clarke, J., Burd, N.A., Moore, D. and Stellingwerff, T., 2015. Protein-leucine fed dose effects on muscle protein synthesis after endurance exercise. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 47(3), pp.547-555.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published