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Exercise Recovery - what you need to know

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When it comes to training for sport and endurance events, it pays to plan and prepare.

Mapping out your meals and snacks ahead of time not only makes it easier for you to glide through a training-packed week but also ensures that you are refuelling your body sufficiently in between sessions. Inadequate refuelling is a recipe for burning out, as it can:

    • Impair recovery
    • Increase fatigue
    • Deplete glycogen stores
    • Impair protein synthesis
    • Lower immune function


Paying attention to what you eat and drink as well as getting enough rest enables you to refuel and repair so you’re energised and ready to go for your next training session.

Pre training preparation

If you’re exercising, the rule of thumb is begin your workout well nourished, but with your stomach virtually empty. This basically means that based on your pre exercise nutrition, your body should be well hydrated and have enough glycogen stored to start your session in the best physical condition.

A piece of low GI fruit like an orange, banana or a small protein drink 30 minutes prior to training can stabilise energy levels and get you powering through a 60 minutes session. If your exercise bouts are longer, then make sure to take along carb replacements such as electrolyte drinks, gels or diluted potassium rich orange juice (mixed with water) to get you through.

Post training recovery

After your run or intense training session, aim to kick-start the recovery process as soon as possible by munching down a snack that includes some fluid. There is a window of about 1-1.5 hours where the enzymes that are involved in storing glycogen and building protein are working in overdrive, so make the most of this! Ideally your post training snack/meal should include:

    • Carbohydrate – restores glycogen and improves protein absorption
    • Protein – repairs muscle and promotes training adaptations
    • Fluid with electrolytes – rehydrates and restores electrolyte balance


Liquid snacks e.g. protein shakes and smoothies, are a convenient way of getting protein and carbs into the bloodstream quickly after a workout, as they take less time to digest than solid food. If you are concerned about your energy intake for weight loss reasons, simply move your next meal forward and skip out the snack. This will ensure that your body still gets the nutrients needed to recover properly without the extra calories


















Recovery smoothie
















*throw in a banana to bump up the potassium
Trail Mix














*Add a dash of Celtic sea salt to replace lost sodium
Protein shake
















* Mix with coconut water for a natural electrolyte boost
Superfood Muesli
















* Healthy Chef Organic Superfood will help the body heal and recover quicker.
Protein power balls
















*Keep a stock in the fridge as a go-to training snack
Raw Bircher Muesli














* Packed with potassium + magnesium for exercise recovery.
Apple + cinnamon breakfast cookie


















*Add a layer of nut butter for additional protein



Studies show that drinking coffee or green tea 30 minutes to an hour before your workout results in 30% longer endurance, faster times, less fatigue and more rapid recovery. Caffeine in low to moderate doses has not been shown to hinder hydration status, but excess intake will, so moderation in crucial. Good sources other than coffee are Green Tea and Yerba Mate.


Always begin your workout well hydrated. Dehydration places significant stresses on the body and even small deficits can impair your training capacity. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is much easier (and comfortable) than sculling large volumes prior to training. Ideally, aim to consume ~500 ml of water about an hour before training and top up with frequent sips during your workout session. If you are exercising for >1hour or in hot temperatures, your sweat losses will be higher and you will benefit from drinking electrolyte (sodium and potassium) containing fluids during your session. The electrolytes help to promote fluid retention and glucose absorption, as well as replace any electrolytes lost in sweat.

Hydrating after your workout is vital in counteracting dehydration. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends you replace 1.5 litres of fluid for each kilogram of body weight lost. Fluid and electrolyte losses vary greatly between people, so it is best to work out your specific needs, early into your training program. Developing a personal hydration plan will also help you avoid over-hydrating, which can be just as dangerous as dehydration.


7 steps



Prevent training burnout

Remember to listen to your body and find your balance. Alternate the intensity of your training, so you’re not training like a crazy-obsessed person every single day, otherwise you’ll soon burn out, get sick and give up.  Over-exercising and hard dieting have both physiological and psychological outcomes, including:

    • Impaired immunity
    • Fatigue
    • Poor sleep
    • Appetite changes
    • Increased anxiety
    • Joint and muscle pain
    • Irritability


Enjoy the journey that endurance training and healthy eating will take you on. Learn to take days off to relax and recharge, and enjoy the experience! It’s the only way you’ll be able to maintain a healthy, balanced exercise routine for the rest of your life.  


Partners in health