There can be a real pressure to knock back a protein shake within minutes of finishing your workout – but are all those training gains ‘lost’ if you miss that 30minute window?
The truth is, the evidence of this essential window even existing is not really definite – as a lot of the research on this is from athletes training fasted. The process of muscle protein synthesis (MPS) – the thing essential for exercise recovery and adaptation – is actually elevated for more than 24hrs after a session. So, if you are only focusing on your initial recovery nutrition and then finding yourself choosing less than ideal options or under fuelling – you are likely missing out on some real opportunities for improved performance.
The urgency of the ‘window’ is actually more dependent on what you have eaten pre-session, your overall schedule and what sessions you have coming up. If you have gone into a session well-fed, then simply aiming for recovery within a couple of hours of finishing the session is fine – THEN remember to continue this recovery via your meals & snacks for the days to come.
However, if you:
• Are hungry; &/or
• Have gone into a session fasted &/or
• Struggle with getting adequate energy in &/or
• Have another session within the next 12hrs –
then getting a recovery snack/meal in within that 30-60min window becomes a lot more important.
As you can see, if you are someone who trains a few times per week – you are literally always in a state of building and recovering! Try to challenge the thought of recovery being only immediately after a session, and instead think of it as this continual goal for the days after your session.
ALICIA EDGE HEAD SPORTS DIETITIAN
Alicia is the head Advanced Sports Dietitian at Compeat Nutrition. She is also a mum and triathlete, so advice extends beyond the basics and is instead focused on providing effective and achievable nutrition for both training and racing.