When Post-Workout Fueling Matters Most

If you’re like a lot of people, you might not feel like eating soon after an especially long or hard workout. And then you might well find yourself struggling on a much easier workout a day or two later, and wondering how you suddenly got so out of shape.

That’s because you didn’t take advantage of the recovery window—the period immediately after a workout when your body is most receptive to refueling. “Eating soon after a workout will support, strengthen, and protect the body’s ability to adapt to training and demand more out of training,” says Jackie Dikos, a sport nutritionist in Indianapolis and a two-time Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier. Let’s look at when paying attention to the recovery window is most important, and how to easily take advantage of it.


Fluids First

The top priority after any workout is rehydrating to replace the fluids and electrolytes you lose during even the shortest, easiest workout. Quickly returning your body’s fluid status to normal ensures good functioning the rest of the day, and a better workout tomorrow. Elite athletes such as this year’s Boston Marathon champion, Meb Keflezighi, are dedicated to immediate post-workout hydration. It’s the sort of habit that might not seem crucial on any given day, but that, over time, has a significant effect because of how often you feel better than you otherwise would have.

The First 30 Minutes

After long and/or hard workouts, you’ll recover more quickly if you take in some calories, and the sooner, the better. Research has found that, in the first 30 minutes post-workout, muscles are extraordinarily receptive to refueling—calories in the form of carbohydrates are converted to glycogen, your muscles’ stored form of carbohydrate, with up to 300% greater efficiency during this short period. Muscles’ sponge-like properties remain elevated up to 90 minutes after a workout, but start falling off after the first hour. (Hence the term “recovery window.”)

The ideal food during the recovery window contains 300-500 calories and has a carbohydrate-to-protein ratio of 4:1. The small amount of protein helps to speed glycogen resynthesis.

Who Needs it Most?

Dikos says that, while anyone who works out can benefit from paying attention to the recovery window, people who work out twice a day or do ambitious workouts over consecutive days should be most interested in recovery nutrition. At the least, you’ll want to be diligent about post-workout calories after your longest aerobic effort of the week, during which your muscles’ fuel stores are most drained. Harder workouts, such as a normal-length bike ride at a higher intensity, use more carbohydrates than easier workouts, so they’re also a good time to focus on recovery nutrition.

Taking advantage of the recovery window is especially important if you’ve felt low on fuel (as opposed to just normally fatigued) over the last part of a long workout. This includes athletes who do depletion rides or runs, in which you purposefully start a long workout without much in the gas tank in the hope of teaching your body to become more efficient at burning available energy stores. Doing these workouts occasionally, such as once a month, can be an effective training tool, but require special attention to post-workout nutrition so that your recovery isn’t delayed.

Simple Solutions

Some sport bars are formulated in the 4:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio. But many people are deterred by sport bars’ cost, the idea that it’s better to eat “real” food or a lack of interest in eating something so dense so soon after a long or hard workout.

Many people like chocolate milk as a convenient form of calories with some protein. As an alternative, Dikos recommends low-fat kefir, a fermented milk. Like chocolate milk, kefir provides carbohydrate, protein and electrolytes, but in addition, she says, “kefir contains beneficial live cultures to support a healthy gut and immune system for potentially exercise-induced immunosuppressed athletes. In addition, it is 99% lactose-free and better tolerated by those who have trouble digesting milk.”

Other quick mini-meals Dikos recommends: fruit and cottage cheese or Greek yogurt; a bowl of cereal; chicken noodle soup with crackers; a sandwich and piece of fruit; or a sweet potato topped with plain Greek yogurt.

Wait: What About Weight?

If one of your motivations to work out is weight control, all this talk of post-exercise refueling might seem counterproductive. After all, don’t you want to create a calorie deficit? Isn’t the recovery window just an excuse to snack?

“Recovery nutrition doesn’t necessarily mean adding snacks or calories to the day,” says Dikos. Her solution, which works well for busy people scheduling their workouts in conjunction with their many other responsibilities: “I suggest for workouts to occur just before the next main meal, such as prior to breakfast, lunch, or dinner, as to not add a significant calorie load while supporting recovery and weight-management goals.”

Team Spotlight: Team Oregon p/b Laurelwood Brewing

The 2nd edition to our Team Spotlight blog series where we’re featuring some of the awesome teams we sponsor.

Team Name: Team Oregon p/b Laurelwood Brewing
Location: Portland, OR
Sport: Cycling – Road, MTB, Cyclocross
Number of members: 59
Favorite Nuun Flavor: All of them! Although some tried and true favorites surface such as Grape, Watermelon, Lemon Lime and Tri Berry.

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Team mission: Enhance the sport of cycling in Oregon by organizing an accessible team with resources to help all members reach their goals within the sport.  Team Oregon is built on a strong team-oriented model, something often missing in competitive cycling today. Experienced riders share their knowledge with less experienced team members. In addition to racing, 
members are encouraged to be active in the club and assist in the club’s operations and projects. Our club is active in promoting races, training rides, training camps, community cycling events, and coaching.

Why does the team like Nuun? We love that it’s nutritious and delicious!  The balance of ingredients provides just what we’re looking for in a performance beverage.  We’re able to replenish our electrolytes and maintain hydration without impacting our calorie replacement regimen helping keep our stomachs settled.   The refreshing taste keeps us coming back for more ensuring we don’t get dehydrated.  If we’re feeling tired or getting ready to crush a ride, we fill our bottles with the caffeinated enhanced Nuun.  Hold on tight!

We also like the tablet delivery system that allows us to pocket extra Nuun for refills during our epic rides.  Off the bike…..a rare occasion mind you….we stay focused and fuel up pre-ride or workout with the All Day Nuun.  We simply just can’t get enough!

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Where is the team’s favorite place to ride? Why? Surprise….Oregon.  It’s simply an amazing place for riding.  You can get 5,000+ ft of climbing within PDX city limits without ever repeating a road via Forest and Washington Park.  Venture out east to the Mt Hood National forest, The Dalles or ride to Multnomah Falls via the Gorge and feel like you’re in another country.  Head down to Eugene to ride the rolling wine country or to the high desert in Bend to get some rides in at elevation or some of the best MTB around.  You can’t go wrong no matter where you are.

We also have a large cyclocross team, adventurous by nature and here’s their take on great riding.  Forgotten roads.  Tracks and paths.  Timeless travels.  Over the coast range and back again.  Climbing till you hit snow, then throw snowballs.  Cycling in Oregon lets us do all this in a day!

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Upcoming Races: We target Pacific NW races matching the OBRA and WSBA calendars.  Some highlights this year will be:

Oregon Cup Races (Road)
Monday/Tuesday Night PIR Series (Road, MTB)
Tour of Walla Walla (Road)
Tour de Bloom (Road)
Chain Breaker (MTB)
Baker City Classic (Road)
High Desert Omnium (Road)
Sisters Stampede (MTB)
Cascade Classic (Road)
Cross Crusade Series (CX)
Gran Prix Erik Tonkin Series (CX)

If you’re ever in the Portland area and looking for a quality ride, come check out our Saturday team ride.  Details via our website.  Also, writing this up made me thirsty, time for some Nuun.

Connect with Team Oregon:

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Nuun Runs Ragnar Trail Zion

Nuun ventured to Southern Utah this past weekend to run Ragnar Trail Zion. With our camping gear, running shoes, lots of snacks and an adventurous attitude, we set off for a weekend of beautiful trails and little sleep. Little did we know what mother nature would add to the mix…

To tell the story of our weekend, we’ll let the photos do most the talking.

Zion Ponderosa Ranch

Home for the next 3 days: Zion Ponderosa Ranch

our 5 star campsite by Ned

A 5-star campsite!

Sean coffee

Getting caffeinated, Nuun style

Sean working

Sean filling up the coolers with delicious electrolytes

photo 3

Safety first! Team at safety meeting before our start.


And we’re off! Rira (in blue) starting Team Nuun off on the Green Loop: 3.1 miles


Catey coming in off the Yellow Loop: 4.6 miles (note, she is very pregnant and ROCKED this relay!)

Running out of exchange

Off on the Red Loop: 8.3 miles


Cheering on Bry from our campsite as she starts the Yellow Loop.

our nuun lights

As the sun set, the Nuun lights came on


And we huddled around the fire or in our sleeping bags to keep warm

Holly muddy

It started to rain and things got real muddy


The rain turned to snow and we came out of our tents in the morning to this

team pic

Team meeting in the morning to decide whether or not we’d continue to run in the conditions. At the same time, Ragnar canceled the relay, which was a smart call. Trails were very slick and lots of injured runners coming into the exchange.

Zion survivor (4)

Team Nuun survived Ragnar Trail Zion! Although the snow canceled the relay, we had a blast and can’t wait for next year!

Have you ran a Ragnar Trail Relay?


A Shoo-In for a Fun Race: Q &A With Calvy Click of Sneaker Report

Sunday’s Nike’s Women Half Marathon is special to Nuun for two reasons. First, we’re the official electrolyte sponsor of the Nike Women’s half marathon and marathon series. Second, we’ll have a team of fitness editors running the race, including Calvy Click, editor-in-chief of Sneaker Report, which covers performance gear and training news. Click is a regular at New York Road Runner races, most recently April 13’s More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women’s Half Marathon.


You’re a late entrant to the half. What are your goals for a long race you weren’t planning to do two weeks ago?

I did a half marathon April 13th, so I’m ready to go! Plenty of speed work and yoga in between has been helpful.

How will your training this week differ from what it usually is?

I’ll be traveling prior to this event, so I’ll squeeze in some extra stretching time.

Given your job at Sneaker Report, you know a lot more about running shoes than most people. What do you tell people to look for when selecting a shoe to wear in a half marathon?

Big question! It all depends on the type of runner in question, but my rules of thumb include making sure you have the right fit and having plenty of time in the shoe pre-race to make sure you’re comfortable.

What developing trends in running shoes most interest you?

Knitted uppers and maximum EVA underfoot is an exciting twist.

Women now make up more than 60% of finishers in U.S. half marathons. In 2014, what’s the role of women-only races like the Nike Women’s Half Marathon?

Races like the Nike Women’s Half Marathon definitely welcome and inspire women to run who might not otherwise. Now let’s work on those marathon numbers…

What’s your favorite type of Nuun?

I like the Strawberry Lemonade for sure!