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VitoVino 09-05-2011 07:45 PM

Foods that heal muscles AFTER exercise
I've never done a post workout meal before, one that is targeted at recovery. But then again, I'm taking my exercise very seriously these days and have decided to call it "training" instead.

I've never even thought about a post workout meal before. Until yesterday.

I've come across some information that has made my post 4 mile walk/run/jog today a joy instead of the usual pain. I put into practice not only my standard pre-run/pre-bike breakfast, but today I have proof that a post training meal as described below actually worked wonders for me. I've NEVER felt so energetic, so fresh in my life after a workout.

Please share your thoughts on this topic, especially if you've got some other suggestions. I'm looking to workout 6 days a week and it looks like the only way my body will ever tolerate that much exercise is to be steadfast in adhering to a good post training meal.

Here's the referenced material:

Foods to Heal Muscles After Exercise

No matter the sport or form of exercise, great demand and stress is put on the body's muscles, more than likely resulting in some form of muscular breakdown or damage. When you're finished with a workout or a game, there is no reason to walk around sore and fatigued when the right nutritional recovery knowledge is available.

Carbohydrates and Protein

Exercise usually results in some form of microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. To start muscle regeneration, post workout nutrition is of prime importance. Monique Ryan's 2002 book "Sports Nutrition For Endurance Athletes" suggests that eating the correct food-fuel for recovery and training comes down to eating the right amounts at the right time. Think carbohydrates such as bagels, bananas or carbo-loaded energy bars for refilling the fuel tank. Protein-rich foods like lean meat, eggs, tofu or protein-enhanced shakes are virtually mandatory after a hard workout to help repair the damaged muscle fibers.

Athletes should consume approximately 1 g of protein for every 4 g of carbohydrates within 2 hours following exercise.

Liquids and Sodium

If not replenished almost immediately, the loss of bodily fluids and sodium through sweating during a workout can make it difficult for muscles to recover. By increasing your fluid intake right after exercise, blood flows easier and quicker to bring the right healing nutrients to damaged muscle fibers. As for sodium or salts, author Suzanne Girard Eberle tells us in the 2000 book "Endurance Sports Nutrition" that salt help to hold more liquid and stimulate thirst, both of which will aid your rehydration. Its actually OK to eat salty potato chips and wash them down with a sodium-enhanced sports drink after hard exercise.


Timing in consuming the right foods and nutrients after a hard workout is key to muscular replenishment. In the 1999 book "Optimal Muscle Recovery" by Dr. Edmund Burke it is stated that muscle cells are most receptive to absorbing complex carbs, protein, sodium and liquid during the first two hours after exercise. Athletes who waited longer than two hours to refuel with the right foods showed 50 percent less muscle restoration. Once finished with a workout, don't be afraid to eat and drink, for it truly is the path to proper recovery, feeling strong, and being ready for the next workout.

Here's another article which says practically the same thing, only stresses the importance of Chromium and the carb-protein ratio is smaller (2.2-2.7 as opposed to Armstrong's 4:1). My ratio today was 2.3 and I feel great!

Link removed


And here's the referenced material for the other "bad link":

Event Recovery: Rebuilding Muscle & Restoring Protein

Have you ever experienced sore muscles after a tough ride or workout? How about during a normal training ride or workout? Do consecutive days of workouts start to wear you down?

Most recreational athletes don't seem to consider proper recovery nutrition as an important part of the workout. Believe it or not, having a hotdog or hamburger after a workout is not going to give your body what it needs for proper recovery.

If you want to avoid the sore muscles after a tough event, or if you want to have the same power at the end of a week of workouts as you did at the beginning, then you will need to supply your muscles with the exact things they need to recover properly. You can find that it is possible to still feel good and keep your performance up over a long period of training.

In my own experience, at 35 years old, I have been able to put on over 100 miles on my road bike in the morning/afternoon, have my recovery drink, and then host an outdoor dinner party where I'm entertaining guests and cooking on the grill. I feel great after my workout and the next day I'm able to go out and do it again. This is only partly to do with natural ability. I give credit to knowing that my muscles need the proper nutrients in the right amounts to recovery properly so that I can continue to make my demands on them.

So what do our bodies need for proper recovery?


During our workouts our muscles go through a breakdown process. This is the catabolic phase. After a workout they begin recovery, which is called the anabolic phase (most people have heard of this in conjuction with steroid use). During the anabolic phase our muscles use the protein available in our body to rebuild and repair. One of the reasons we can get so sore is that we have not put enough of the right kind of protein in our body to allow the recovery process to happen the way nature intended.

Even though our muscles are made primarily of protein, our bodies need some help getting the muscles to accept the amino acids and move the recovery process along.

Insulin & Chromium

Most people are probably aware of the role insulin plays in regulating blood sugar, but the athlete also needs to be aware of the role insulin plays in muscle recovery. Insulin is the body's number one anabolic stimulator. It is the key that allows the muscle cells to accept amino acids (protein) and glucose. Without a good supply of insulin, the recovery and rebuilding of the cell cannot take place. Therefore, insulin stimulation is the number one job of a good protein/carbohydrate muscle recovery drink.

Chromium is the cell's receptor for insulin. The nutritional side of your recovery plan needs to include the right amount of chromium so that the insulin can open the muscle cells and allow the BCCAs and carbs to do their work. The product you use should contain 25 to 50 micrograms of chromium nicotinate. This form of chromium is used by the body most efficiently, but is more difficult (and therefore expensive) to produce, so you will not find it in most off-the-shelf products.


Since carbohydrate is the one of the main stimulators of insulin (another stimulator being protein) it makes sense that you would want to make sure this is in your recovery plan. But then the questions get a little more involved:

* How much carbohydrate?
* How much protein?
* What kind of protein?

Putting It All Together

The best balance of amino acids in the protein for insulin stimulation is about 40 percent of BCCAs. The best ratio of carbohydrate to protein comes out to be 2.2 to 2.7.

Here's what I had within 2 hours of my exercise:

- Water (at least 1 quart)
- 1/2 dill pickle (for the sodium)
- Chromium picolinate tablet
- 2 bananas
- 1 box of raisins (1/4 cup)
- 6 ounces of chicken breast, no skin

Also, stretching within the 2 hour window of opportunity.

handcycle2005 09-05-2011 08:30 PM

Pardon me for being skeptical but an article promoting a specific ratio that just happens to be provided by the sponsoring company makes me wary.

While a mixture of carbs and protein make an effective post workout meal, the 2.2:1 ratio is not the best for long duration workouts.

A two hour run/bike (15-20 / 35/50 miles)will burn a significant amount of an athlete's glycogen stores, as much as 90% or more.

Trained athletes will store around 400-500 grams of glycogen so that represents 360-450 grams burned.
Replenishing at 2.2:1 will mean trying to eat appx. 90-110 grams of protein in a short period of time and leaving the athlete at risk of not consuming enough and failing to restore glycogen stores.

I ran 50-60 mile (plus bicycle commuting) weeks for years and usually refueled at about a 4:1 rate.

VitoVino 09-05-2011 08:54 PM

That's great information!

Being a novice to this, I really don't know what the accepted ratio is. Yeah, I hear ya about that info on the company's website. But since I'm trying to keep my carbs low I went with the lower ratio.

So you're agreeing with the Armstrong site about 4:1. That's cool. If the lower ratio doesn't work well for me I'll definitely bump it up. But at least now I'm aware of this 2 hour window of opportunity. I never felt better after a workout than I did today.


handcycle2005 09-05-2011 09:09 PM

Vito, at four miles a day, you're not at risk for depleting glycogen unless you really restrict your carbs.

That 4:1 ratio was likely determined for high mileage athletes. Plus their high calorie intake overall will provide more than enough protein.

On 3000-4000 calories a day, even 25% protein will mean 187-250 grams which is higher than typical for endurance athletes.

VitoVino 09-05-2011 09:54 PM

Originally Posted by handcycle2005 (Post 55837)
Vito, at four miles a day, you're not at risk for depleting glycogen unless you really restrict your carbs.

OK, that's good to know. But just so I'm clear on this, you're not saying not to do a post workout meal, as the one I described in the OP that worked for me. Right? Because I am certain that I feel better than I ever have after working out, and all I did was basically eat some fruit and some chicken within two hours. It was easy.

And BTW, I'm not restricting carbs. I usually average around 47-49 % weekly.

handcycle2005 09-05-2011 10:02 PM

Nothing wrong with a post-workout meal at any level, just no need to obsess or go crazy with the supplements.

The only supplement I use is whey protein morning and evening. But I'm in the gym almost two hours a day and ride my handcycle 100-140 miles a week.

billy98 10-11-2011 04:52 AM

Hello it is a real pleasure to meet you all hope that we can bring something special in our life through this forum.
nice post thanks for sharing according to me one should use whey,bcaa and gultamine for maximum muscle recovery
nice to be here... Glad to meet you all

nacher 10-12-2011 02:10 PM

i once read 'the zone' by barry sears, where he says that the protein to carbohydrate ratio should be around 1:1 (i don't remember the exact number). i always try to eat enough proteins because of that and it feels good to me!

RunbikeSki 10-13-2011 01:01 AM

One of the problems with advocating a "post workout meal" is that most people go overboard. "Hey, I rode a stationary bike for 30 minutes - I deserve a candy bar (or sandwich, or whatever)". A mile of running at a moderate pace is burns only about 100 cals. Go for a 3 mile run (which is challenging for most people) and you can totally negate that with a fancy coffee drink.

I tend to think of my post workout food meal as "pre-breakfast" or "pre-dinner" or "post-breakfast" etc , so I take the approx calories I would eat for that meal and reserve a portion of the protein and some carbs to have after I get back home. That way I'm restocking the muscles, but still working on a calorie deficit.

It is more about the timing, IMO.

VitoVino 10-18-2011 01:22 PM

Originally Posted by RunbikeSki (Post 59373)
One of the problems with advocating a "post workout meal" is that most people go overboard. "Hey, I rode a stationary bike for 30 minutes - I deserve a candy bar (or sandwich, or whatever)". A mile of running at a moderate pace is burns only about 100 cals. Go for a 3 mile run (which is challenging for most people) and you can totally negate that with a fancy coffee drink.

Well, I think we can agree that if someone reads this thread about exercise, training, and a recovery meal to replenish the muscles, and then associates that with a candy bar as a treat, they have bigger issues that they need to address. ;)

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