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Race nutrition: post-race refuel and recovery

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Kate Percy from Go Faster Food has written up a 3 part race nutrition plan to get you preparing, performing and recovering to the best of your ability with food.

Enjoy your post-event euphoria, you’ve certainly earned it! But before you get too excited, it’s important to let your body recover. That's why I've put together Go Faster Food's top 4 tips to post-race refuel and recover:

1. Promote recovery IMMEDIATELY with a high G.I. snack and a good drink, preferably a sports recovery drink containing electrolytes and a 4:1 ration of carbohydrate to protein. It may be the last thing you want, but you’ll feel better the next day for it. 

  • High G.I. snacks include bananas, raisens, oatmeal cookie and snickers bars - you basically want something which will replace your glycogen levels after your race and keep you going until you can eat a proper meal. Smoothie recipe Tribe
  • You can buy specific recovery drinks and gels for your finish line refuel
  • Smoothies and protein shakes may not seem that appealing but they are a quick way to get your glycogen levels up and an easy injection of protein.

2. Replace lost body salts. If you’ve lost a lot of salt through sweat, then you may crave salty foods; this is the time to enjoy a bag of chips, peanuts or crisps! 

  • Race 'goodie bags' will often contain salty snacks such as pretzels or pistachios
  • Replacing salts is important as it will help with your rehydration efforts too

3. As soon as you can stomach it, enjoy a good post-race meal. This should be a meal containing high GI carbohydrates and protein. A Thai curry, or steak and chips will aid muscle recovery and start to replace all those calories you’ve burned. See Go Faster Food for high GI recovery meals and snacks. Your metabolism will be on overdrive and you will continue to burn calories for a few days after the event. 

4. Keep drinking plenty of fluid throughout the day and don’t drink too much alcohol - your body needs time to recover so don't reach for a beer before you've replaced your lost fluids. Alcohol will accelerate dehydration and your body will be more susceptible to dehydration following a long distance endurance race.

  • Try to keep your water in take high throughout the rest of your day and the following days
  • It is important to sustain a regular in take of fluids rather than gulping down 2 litres at the finish line and calling yourself rehydrated!

With many races, you will have been preparing for months beforehand and you may have cut out certain foods or alcohol out of your diet in the run up to the event. It may be tempting to go straight back to these as your post-race treat but be wary that anything you've not eaten or drank for a while may affect your digestive system. Sticking to familiar foods which you have recovered with during your training will make your post-race recovery enjoyable, familiar and efficient.


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