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  • Writer's pictureAnnie Bothma


Updated: Feb 2, 2023

By Annie Bothma, 15 October 2022

This post is about what happens after you have crossed the finish-line, or completed a hard workout, long run or training session.

The post-exercise period should be a time to relax, as well as a time to put back the energy and key nutrients that you have taken out of your body while exercising. Adequate recovery after hard training is just as important as the training itself. If you don't recover well after your training, you won't be able to be consistent and in the long run, that is what makes the difference.

A big part of recovery, aside from getting enough sleep and managing your stress load, is nutrition. Recovery starts in the kitchen, ideally as soon as possible after you have finished exercising. You may have heard a lot of debate about the post-exercise window for fueling and if it is truly that important to eat and drink within 30-60 minutes after completing your workout.

The short answer: It depends.

If you are someone who exercise daily 6-7 days a week or do two (or more) training sessions per day. Or if you are seriously training for a race, especially if it is a marathon or ultra-marathon.


In my own experience being an athlete myself, I have found that my training quality and ability to recover quickly after hard efforts, is so much better the sooner I get nutrients back into my body, regardless if it was an easier run or long hard run. As a coach, I always tell my athletes: Tomorrow starts today! What you do today will impact how well you perform tomorrow in your training. So even if it is a rest day or easy day, you still need to fuel, start thinking about that workout, long run or race that is just around the corner.

On the flip side...If you have more time to recover between your training sessions, or only train 2-3 days per week, it is a bit more relaxed. However, you are still missing out on some of the benefits of fueling shortly after exercise. Your body is in a prime state to take in nutrients and allow muscles to recover. Your body will use the energy you give it to facilitate the adaptation from the training you did and in turn allow you to go harder, longer and faster in the future.

If you want to read more about the benefits of post-exercise fuelling check out my previous post: POST-EXERCISE NUTRITION GOALS


  • Rehydrate: To restore fluid and electrolyte losses.

  • Refuel: Replenish glycogen stores

  • Repair & Remodel: The tissue repair and adaptation to the training stimulus.

Collectively this is known as the 4Rs of post-exercise fueling. The appropriate amounts of fluids, electrolytes, carbohydrates and protein should be ingested to accomplish the goals defined by the 4Rs to achieve maximal recovery.


REHYDRATE: Think fluids and electrolytes!

Goal: Replace 150% of fluids lost through sweat in exercise over a period of a few hours after exercise.

Practically that would mean that you need 1.5 L if you lost 1 L of fluid during exercise. Remember, 1kg loss in body weight after exercise equals 1 L of fluid.

Example: Remember you can pick more than one too!

Smoothies, the classic chocolate milk, sports drinks, fruit juice, ice tea, electrolyte tablets.

Recipe: Strawberry Stinger Smoothie


  • 1/2-1 cup milk or dairy alternative

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries

  • 2 large dates

  • 25g whey isolate protein powder

  • few ice cubes


1. Blend and enjoy!

REFUEL: Grab those Carbs!

Goal: Aim to consume 1-1.2g per kg/body weight of carbohydrates in the hour after exercise.

Examples: Bread, oatmeal, cereal, pasta, rice, crackers, muffins, bagels, fruit...

Recipe: Creamy Nutty-Banana-Chocolate Oatmeal


  • 50g of rolled oats

  • 250ml of milk of your choice

  • 1 tsp cocoa powder

  • 1 tbsp nut butter of choice

  • A pinch of cinnamon

  • 1 banana, sliced

Toppings: (Ideas for fun add-ons)

  • Fresh Blueberries

  • Cacao nibs

  • A spoon of extra nut butter

  • Drizzle of honey or maple syrup (optional)


  1. Put the oats, milk and cocoa powder in a pan over medium heat. When it starts to bubble, turn down the heat.

  2. Stir until the porridge thickens and the oats are cooked, about 4-5 minutes.

  3. Stir in the nut butter and cinnamon, spoon into bowls, top with banana slices and, if you like, a drizzle of honey or maple syrup and your desired toppings.

REPAIR & REMODEL: Protein Matters!

Goal: 0.3g/kg of protein or around 25-40g of protein from a complete protein source containing all the essential amino acids.


Animal-based: Whey isolate, milk, yoghurt, meat, fish, chicken, eggs, cottage cheese..

Plant-based: Soy isolate protein, Protein powder mix (brown rice and pea isolate), Rice and beans combined, tofu, edamame beans...

Recipe: Breakfast wrap

A breakfast wrap is a fun way to switch up your traditional toast and eggs. If you prefer a vegan option, add some sautéed tofu on the side. Add some left-over rice to increase the carbs if you like!


  • 1 Large Wrap

  • ½ avocado, mashed

  • 2-3 eggs, scrambled

  • ¼ cup sliced cherry tomatoes

  • 30g Feta cheese or cheese of choice

  • Fresh herbs of choice (optional)

  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Spread the avocado at the bottom of the wrap. Top with the scrambled eggs, tomato and cheese.

  2. Season to taste.

  3. Fold the left and right sides of the tortilla over the filling. Fold the bottom flap of the burrito up and over the filling, tucking the sides and the filling as you roll the burrito.

  4. Serve and enjoy!

As athletes we ask a lot of our bodies, which means after training we have to give it back some love and care to allow it to recover. If you don't it may just not keep giving back to you in the same way as before!

Remember the 4Rs: Rehydrate, Refuel, Repair and Remodel.

Aim to consume some fluids, electrolytes, carbohydrates and protein as soon as possible after your next workout, long run or race.

Remember, if you completed a race, it is also a good idea to just pause for a moment and soak up what you have just accomplished! You can rehydrate, refuel, repair and remodel, while having fun and eating the things you love! Some foods are better options for recovery than others, but it does not have to be perfect!

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