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Recovery Shake Recipe

Updated: May 2, 2023

As soon as you finish a training session, your body is craving several things: fluids, salts, carbohydrates, and protein. The most convenient way to refuel after a training session is a shake, giving you some time to prepare a more wholesome, fresh and filling meal later. There are some misconceptions about post-workout nutrition, most importantly the ratios and timing of the different macro-nutrients you need after exercise.

Sports literature converges on a 30-minute window, AKA the “glycogen window”, after exercise to replenish these nutrients for optimal recovery: “Post-exercise (within 30 minutes) consumption of carbohydrates… have been shown to stimulate muscle glycogen re-synthesis, while adding protein to carbohydrates at a ratio of 4:1 (carbs:protein) may further enhance glycogen re-synthesis.”

During exercise you also lose key electrolyte salts in sweat: sodium, chloride, potassium and magnesium. Adding these electrolytes to your recovery drink makes it easier for your body to absorb the carbohydrates, protein and fluids in the recovery shake. On the MyProtein website (no affiliation to NZAT) you can buy pure Essential Electrolyte Powder which includes potassium and magnesium in addition to sodium and chloride.

For carbohydrates, most commercial products include multiple carbohydrate types with different lengths of glucose molecules to increase overall absorption, for example maltodextrin and dextrose.

Try the following recovery shake recipe:

  1. 2 cups Maltodextrin Carbs

  2. 1 cup Dextrose Glucose Carbs

  3. 1 cup Whey protein powder or Plant protein powder*

  4. 1 tablespoon Essential Electrolyte Powder

  5. 1/2 cup Cacao powder (for flavour)

  6. Optional: 1 cup cow milk/coconut milk powder or plant-based alternative, for creaminess & fats

Thoroughly mix together the ingredients in a bag. Add a 50 gram scoop to 500ml protein shaker, or to taste, and shake vigorously.

*Note: in this recipe it seems like there is a 3:1 carb:protein ratio, but the protein powder is about 80% protein per weight, which works out at roughly a 4:1 ratio.

A note on antioxidants: some people take anti-oxidant supplements to try improve their recovery, but most research does not show good evidence that anti-oxidant supplements improve recovery, so it is likely not worth the effort.

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