Eating to Recover
Oxygen Magazine Australia|Issue 91

What you eat right after a workout (and when you eat it) is crucial to recovery. Here’s how to maximise your results.

Steve Downs, CSCS

There’s an old fitness adage that says, “You don’t build your body in the gym. It’s what you do after training that causes physical improvement.” So even if you exercise religiously, you’re selling yourself short if you’re not following the correct steps the moment you leave the gym.

When you finish a tough workout, your body is starving for nutrition. Intense training breaks down muscle tissue (which catabolises protein), depletes muscle glycogen (which is critical for energy) and reduces muscular ATP stores (the cellular fuel that drives muscular contractions). Your body requires the replenishment of glycogen first and foremost. This storage form of carbohydrate is found in muscles (about 400 grams) and the liver (about 100 grams) and is critical for brain function, as well as fuelling physical activity. It’s also used during training to replenish ATP in the muscles.

In addition, in the absence of carbs, amino acids are stripped away from muscle to be reassembled as glycogen molecules — a catabolic process you want to avoid.

The carb connection

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