What to eat after training or facing a sport challenge?
Knowing what we should eat after being engaged in an intense physical activity is important if we want an optimal recovery and to maintain a high performance. Robert Bausells, our sports nutritionist, give us some tips and advices.
Robert, what should we first ingest after a match, a triathlon or an intense training session?
What should be prioritized, after having faced a sport challenge, is to replace what has been used during the physical activity. Starting with liquids, either water or isotonic drinks.
Minerals are the first we lose through sweat. Depending on the kind of sport, there can be up to 3 kg fluid loss during a competition.
For example, in hockey there is a big difference between players and goalkeepers’ sweat rate. As goalies wear more protections their sweat rates can be up to 3 kg during a game; whereas football players lose between 600 ml and 1,5 kg of water per match.
Are we talking about real and measurable loss?
Yes! I myself have calculated hockey and football players’ sweat rates. I have weight them before and after the game, I have measured the amount of fluid consumed during the game, if they have lost fluid via the urine and the amount. This way we know how many millilitres per hour athletes lose.
This is the reason why, after a game, race or sport challenge, it is so important to recover. For example, if a football player has lost 1 litre of fluids, he should intake between 150% and 200% more of what he has lost (500 ml of which will come from isotonic drinks) to replace salts, sugars and minerals.
And after the liquids?
After refuelling liquids, it is important, no matter what, to intake carbs to replenish glycogen and proteins to repair the muscles. Depending on the sport, there is one proportion or another of carbs and proteins.
Can you give us an example?
Cyclists and triathletes should intake a big carb proportion following a 3:1 or 4:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio. In other words:
- 3 parts of carbs per protein (60 g of carbs + 20 g of protein)
- 4 parts of carbs per protein (80 g of carbs + 20 g of protein)
Personally, in recoveries after a competition I suggest 0,3 g of protein per kg of athlete’s body weight. And between 1 g and 1,5 g of carbs per kg of body weight.
As per footballers, a 2-1 ratio should be enough (50 g of carbs + 25 g of protein).
These ratios are given in shakes just after the competition is finished. It is recommended to intake them the sooner the better to take advantage of the ‘metabolic window’, which is when the body is more receptive. During this period, absorption, thus recovery, is faster.
The faster athletes recover the faster they can go back to training under optimum conditions.
Are shakes the best way to get these nutrients?
They work well to rehydrate and because athletes, normally, aren’t hungry just after competing. For this reason, shakes are an easy way to take advantage of the metabolic window.
And after the shakes?
Between an hour and two after the game, race or training session it would be a good idea to intake another portion of hydrates and carbs like the mentioned above.
When it comes to the main meal after the game or race, no matter if it is lunch or dinner, I would advise to eat pasta or rice, pizza – always a healthy pizza – sushi, blue fish…
For dessert, for example, rice pudding with cinnamon or turmeric it would be a good recovery.
Turmeric is in vogue in the field of nutrition….
Yes, because it is a natural anti-inflammatory. I recommend the intake of turmeric and omega-3 to my players during the following two days after a game.
To footballers from the teams I work with (Club de Futbol Reus Deportiu, C Beijing Institute of Technology and Kazakhstan’s FC Kairat) I recommend the protein shake we have talked about earlier, and in addition, the intake of magnesium gel, omega-3 and turmeric.
The interest in nutrition and a healthy lifestyle is increasing, but, is all the information on the Internet reliable?
Obviously, not. There is a lot of noisy data on the Internet. Information from reliable sources can be a reference point, but I always recommend to those athletes who want to optimise their performance to contact a nutritionist specialist in sports nutrition. As, just as doctors hold a specialization, nutritionist get specialized as well.