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How I Recover from Workouts

Last updated 2011-10-07 - Send Feedback
Related: training

See also Post-workout Recovery.

I 2011, I set myself one simple rule: ride every day, with only a few days excepted for brief illness.

For stage races like the Everest Challenge, recovery is essential for Stage 2 the next day, and indeed I rode stronger the 2nd day than the first— best practices pay off.

Goldilocks principle

I consume up to 25% of energy expenditure during a workout, using Hammer Perpetuem Solids or energy gel, for less intensive workouts I might consume an energy bar or even cheat and eat a candy bar, but solid food like that is an option only for easy workouts (digestion).

For a 2000 calorie workout, I would typically take in 500 calories of fuel at the rate of 250-300 calories per hour. Consuming less than 15% is in my experience a Very Bad Idea, leading to diminished performance and uncontrollable hunger when done.

My recovery diet — NOP (nuts, oatmeal, protein)

This approach has never let let me down

I like real food whenever possible, I like my food simple, but tasty without extra sugar or fat or junk ingredients, and inexpensive also. This is not hard to do with wise choices.

If the workout was moderately hard or hard, I will first ingest 1 or 2 scoops of Hammer Recoverite in 12 oz water, followed by the diet below, no more than 15 minutes later:

  • 120 calories of Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free oatmeal (eaten raw, never cooked), excellent glucose source;
  • 20 grams protein of Hammer Whey or whey protein powder.
  • 30 grams raw unsalted pistachios from nuts.com for a fat source (I consume about a pound per week of pistachios, and 3 pounds in the week preceding the Everest Challenge). Alternative: black walnuts, but I prefer the slightly lower fat content of pistachios.
  • 1500mg Vitamin C + multi-vitamin with antioxidants + Vitamin B12 + Vitamin D3.

Then, 45-60 minutes later (NOT 2 hours later!), I eat a meal consisting of a similar balance of carbs/protein/fat along with extras like fruit and dried seaweed and vegetables and goodies. Here also is the time to eat candy or similar stuff to reward yourself, like chocolate.

Because I require 4000-5000 calories per day just to maintain my weight, the meal might extend over an hour while I read the paper or do something else. Steady pacing with a variety of foods— not a big slug of food all at once.

Before bed

Often I will take 20 grams protein before bed if the workout has been hard, and sometimes an additional oatmeal and nut supplement, giving my body the building blocks to repair and grow muscle. I credit the extra protein with supporting the 10 pounds or so of leg muscle from January 1st of 2011 to September.

Don’t forget to eat while riding before the next hard climb!
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