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By Steve Eddey, Principal of Health Schools Australia, and Belinda Reynolds, Dietician and Nutritionist Isowhey® Sports

Are you struggling to recover after your workouts? The issue may lie in poor nutritional status and hydration practices. When you are highly active and training regularly, your hydration and nutritional needs may be higher than that of sedentary individuals. Research shows that replenishment of lost nutrients and water is essential to peak conditioning and recovery.

To ensure efficient recovery after training, you must consume a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet on a daily basis. Post-workout, special attention should be paid to the consumption of protein, carbohydrates, water and electrolytes (when required). In addition, further nutrients taken in supplemental doses can further promote recovery, energy production processes and overall wellbeing.

Here are a number of suggestions from the experts on what to consume postworkout to help assist your recovery.


It is well known that training causes damage to your muscle fibres and puts other forms of stress on the body, which forces it to adapt. These processes are all essential parts of increasing strength and fitness, however in the absence of good nutrition the body’s inbuilt recovery mechanisms may be inadequate, and this
could impede the ability to reach your true potential.

Protein provides the amino acids which are the building blocks of muscle, and special attention should be paid to consuming sufficient amounts on a daily basis as a part of every meal and snack. Whey is a popular supplement for those looking to supplement their diet with additional protein.

Its great amino acid profile includes high amounts of the branched chain amino acids (BCAAAs) known to be the most important for stimulating muscle protein growth. Protein supplements are routinely consumed post-workout, and rightly so, but remember that the muscle recovery process continues for at least 12 hours
following training and therefore it is ideal to take in an additional 20g of protein every three hours during this extended period. There are also recent findings that suggest consuming a small amount of easily digestible protein (together with carbohydrates) during a session to further enhance recovery and performance in
subsequent training sessions.

In addition, good gut health is essential to achieving peak condition. Consumption of L-glutamine and probiotics, both of which promote intestinal health, have been shown to support better muscle recovery and enhanced immune health. Good digestion also ensures you get the most value out of the nutrients you consume, and reduces gut upset during highintensity training sessions.


Glycogen, the carbohydrate that is stored in your liver and muscles, is a polysaccharide that serves as an energy storehouse in your body. Your muscles convert glycogen into usable energy and your body utilises that glycogen throughout the day. This is why it is important to maintain optimal nutrition to keep those stores replenished as when you exercise those stores are quickly depleted.

Eating high-GI carbohydrates postworkout is essential for initiating muscle glycogen synthesis and replenishing your glycogen stores. If you don't replenish those
stores, your body will not be able to recover effectively and your performance may suffer during your next workout. Note: postworkout is the ideal time to eat
high-GI carbs such as bananas.

The best timeframe to replenish your glycogen stores with carbohydrate-rich foods is within the 30 minutes following your workout. Post-workout your blood flow is increased and your muscle cells are more sensitive to insulin, which is why you will get the best results if you consume foods then. Make sure that the carbohydrates
you consume are whole foods and high-GI. Try to avoid anything that contains additives such as sugar, salt or artificial colourings.


Although hydration is essential for everyone, it is especially important to replenish your fluids after a big training session. An average individual should be drinking at least two litres of water a day. This need increases if you’re very active. Certain scenarios (e.g. sessions lasting longer than one hour, or performed in heat or humidity) may also call for an additional electrolyte supplement to assist healthy rehydration, especially if you are noticing symptoms of muscle cramping, or limitations in your exercise performance. If you are sweating profusely during a gruelling, hot, or endurance training session, not only are you losing water, but significant levels of electrolytes can be lost too.

Electrolytes (e.g. sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium) are paramount in maintaining whole body and cellular water balance as they influence the ability of your body to hold onto water. During exercise we also call on electrolytes for muscle function, energy synthesis and nerve impulses to maintain maximum endurance and muscular strength.

Subsequently, if you are low in electrolytes, hydration will be compromised, as will performance and recovery. Remember, it is also important to be well hydrated before a training session and to maintain good hydration and electrolyte status throughout training as well. This will help support stamina and maintenance of
peak condition during prolonged or intense exercise.

If you’re looking for a great source of natural electrolytes, coconut water can be a nice addition to your regimen as it provides essential electrolytes (potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium), other minerals (iron and phosphorous), vitamins (vitamin C, folate and B6), carbohydrates and protein.


Did you know that your ubiquinol levels may also become depleted if not properly maintained? Ubiquinol is the active and reduced form of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
which is found naturally in our bodies, providing energy to our cells and major organs. It is also considered to be one of the most powerful antioxidants.

As we age, or if we put our bodies under stress physically and mentally, evidence suggests that our ubiquinol levels deplete, potentially causing fatigue which may in turn make recovery from strenuous exercise a struggle. In order to maintain an appropriate amount of ubiquinol without supplementation, you would need to consume excessive amounts of meat, green vegetables or sardines.

The great news for fitness enthusiasts is that studies have also shown that over time ubiquinol may help enhance peak power production in trained athletes. In a
double blind placebo study with 100 German  Olympic athletes, those who received ubiquinol supplementation showed improved physical performance. The study also suggested that the results were likely to be broader and ubiquinol could have benefits for ‘older athletes’ and ‘weekend warriors’, meaning that supplemented
ubiquinol may improve the physical output in anyone from casual gym goers and amateur athletes to competitive sportspeople.

• Ensure adequate protein consumption post-workout
• Supplement with L-glutamine and probiotics to improve gut health
• Consume high-GI foods but avoid additives such as sugar, salt or artificial colourings
• Drink at least two litres of water each day
• Maintain electrolytes with coconut water
• Consider ubiquinol supplementation


Belinda Reynolds BScNut&Diet (Hon): Belinda Reynolds graduated with an Honours Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2003. She has been in-volved in the complementary medicine industry for nearly 15 years - 10 of these working for BioCeuticals as a practitioner sales consultant, team leader, presenter, educator
and writer, with an involvement in mar-keting and product development. Outside of this Belinda has spent time working in hospitals and lectured at the Australasian College of Natural Therapies. Belinda’s greatest passion is assisting practitioners in developing their knowledge by presenting new re-search in the area of integrative medicine. Now a mother of two, pre-natal, post-natal, infant and child health have evolved as subjects particularly close to her heart.

Stephen Eddey: Stephen Eddey is a qualified nutritionist and naturopath and is principal of Australia’s longest established natural medicine college, Health Schools Australia. He has completed a Bachelor of Complementary Medi-cine as well as a Masters in Health Science.


1Alf et, al., JISSN 2013, 10:24

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