What is Post Workout Nutrition for Muscle Recovery? | a2 Milk® USA Blog
What is Post Workout Nutrition for Muscle Recovery? | a2 Milk® USA Blog

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What is Post-Workout ‘Recovery Nutrition’ for Muscle Recovery?

Posted on August 17, 2017

What is ‘Recovery Nutrition’

First, let’s address for whom and when recovery nutrition is best suited. Recovery nutrition, which is consuming food or drink in the 30-45 minutes post-exercise, is most helpful for those who participate in high intensity, endurance, or power/heavy lifting fitness or sports. Truly, many team sports are a combination of all three types of exercise depending on the position, the type of practice or competition style.

Research has shown that in the 30 minutes to 2 hours following intense exercise, the body is hyper responsive to absorbing needed nutrients. It is in these situations that athletes will most benefit from ingesting carbohydrate and protein to replenish glycogen stores and rebuild and repair important tissues like muscle. (1) I tell my athletes that your recovery fuel is the first decision you make toward having the next great workout.

Recovery nutrition can also help contribute to an athlete’s total calorie needs, which in many cases may be high and difficult to achieve without eating frequently.



What type of workout calls for recovery nutrition?

If you’re not quite sure what high intensity exercise and fitness is, refer to these guidelines.

High intensity exercise is quantified as reaching high heart rates over a time period of about 45 minutes or longer, either through intentional interval training, or as a result of practice, like in playing basketball.

recovery nutrition

 Who Should Consume Recovery Nutrition?

  • Those who take part in endurance sports where athletes reach more moderate heart rates, but have to sustain them over a longer period of time, typically while performing the same body motions, should consider appropriate recovery nutrition. Especially following sports like running, swimming, rowing, soccer, some track events, triathlons, cycling, or adventure racing.
  • Power/Heavy lifting sports include powerlifting, Crossfit, Olympic weightlifting, or those who are just trying to gain muscle and strength.. If you are involved in sports where powerful bursts are critical to performance such as in gymnastics, cheer, or shot put, the proper nutrition will play an important role in recovery.

Recovery nutrition is not as crucial for those who exercise at a moderate level for under 60 minutes (think general gym goer) as they typically won’t create as great of deficit in calories or amino acid need. A balanced diet throughout the day will help them achieve all the nutrients they need to benefit from their fitness routine.

Why is a2 Milk® Chocolate Milk a Great Choice for Recovery Nutrition?

1. Perfect Ratio of Carbs to Protein

Research has revealed that there is an ideal ratio of 4g:1g carbohydrates to protein in recovery nutrition which maximizes the digestion, absorption and impact of food. Many athletes focus heavily on the amount of protein they get in after workouts. However, they fail to realize that a higher amount of carbohydrates is necessary to promote quick digestion and stimulate absorption of the amino acids for immediate use. Chocolate milk, which has more carbohydrate than regular milk thanks to the added chocolate, has been studied and proven to be an excellent recovery choice because it is a perfect package of this 4:1 ratio. (2,3)

2. Perfect Proteins

Milk contains both whey and casein proteins naturally. These proteins play a critical role in stimulating muscle synthesis initially and can help to continue to provide amino acids beyond the feeding. I see many athletes who think they need an expensive, special protein supplement after a workout when in reality, all-natural chocolate milk will do the trick nicely.

3. Perfect Taste

One of the initial draws to chocolate milk as a recovery drink is its appeal. Most people like the taste and it’s rather easy to find. You do not need to go a supplement store and drop a lot of money on something that may help you. Certainly when it comes to teen athletes I feel much more confident recommending chocolate milk then a supplement in most cases. And if an athlete has any financial struggles, utilizing chocolate milk in their nutrition plan hopefully frees up money to use on the other real food they need to maximize performance.


How Much Chocolate Milk is Needed?

In many youth sports, chocolate milk is most often accessible as the 8 oz carton provided by school lunches. This quantity is an acceptable amount in many situations, especially with younger athletes. In cases where the athlete is older, calorie burn is very high, muscle building is critical, or the athlete has a higher baseline calorie need, I will recommend 12-16 oz of chocolate milk post-exercise. Another approach (if needed) is to pair 8 oz of chocolate milk with a snack like a granola bar.

  1. Rosenbloom C, Coleman E. Sports Nutrition: A Practice Manual for Professionals. 5th Edition. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2012.
  2. Karp J, Johnston J, Tecklenburg S. Mickleborough T. Fly A. Stager J. Chocolate Milk as a Post-Exercise Recovery Aid. In J Sport Nut Ex Metab. 2006; 16: 78-91.
  3. Ferguson-Stegall L. et al. Post-exercise carbohydrate-protein supplementation improves subsequent exercise performance and intracellular signaling for protein synthesis. J Strength Con Res. 2011; 25:1210-1224.

 About the Author | Jenna Braddock, MSH, RDN, CSSD, LD/N

Jenna is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Specialist in Sports Nutrition. She has been working with athletes of all ages and level for over 10 years. She is also married to a high school head football coach and lives and breathes sports. You can read more of her work on her blog MakeHealthyEasy.com. She is also launching a new site, Off-Season Athlete, in 2017 to provide science-based, easily accessible sports nutrition and training courses to teen athletes and their parents.

Jenna Braddock

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