Mixing Your Own Recovery Drinks--Did I Forget To Carry A Zero?

For a long time I’ve been using lore and cycling history as a fueling and recovery strategy. Ride fasted on coffee. Just don’t eat a whole lot on or off the bike. I’ve been following the TR podcast discussions about fueling and recovery. The advice to fuel with carbs during workouts has been nothing short of transformative. I think Nate said something to the effect that it’s like being given a “cheat code.” But I think I’m almost 100% certain I’m screwing something up as far as recovery goes.

Bear with me, math is not my strong suit.

So as an overview:

  • Amber was advising to try to do a 1:1 replacement for rides/workouts.
  • Basic idea is to get a 1:1 replacement when tallying up in-ride fueling, and post-ride recovery.
  • Amber mentioned her recovery drink is just gatorade mix and Tera’s Whey.
  • I’ve read that for recovery, the recommended amount of protein is .3-.4g per kg of body weight. But Chad mentioned on the podcast that “masters” athletes should get more protein–doing a little internet research, I came across the number .6g per kg of body weight.

So here are my takeaways:

  • I should take .6g per kg of body weight in post-ride recovery.
  • For the sake of argument, let’s say we’re using Amber’s magic elixir that’s Gatorade and whey, and we mix them in a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein.
  • I weigh 87kg.
  • Optimal post-ride recovery at .6g per kg at 3:1 carbs:protein is:
    • 156g carbs to 52g protein
  • A big scoop of Gatorade powder is 66g of carbs and 240 cal.
  • A scoop of whey has 11g of protein and 55 cal.
  • In order to hit .6g per kg and maintain 3:1 ratio I need to mix up 4.75 scoops of whey and 2.37 scoops of gatorade mix.
  • On the back of the gatorade container it says 2 scoops make ½ gallon of gatorade.

Example Ride (1.5 hours @ 1100 cal)

  • 1 cliff shot 15 min before ride (110 cal)
  • 3 cliff shots in an 1:30 ride at 20 / 45 / 70 (330 cal)
  • 2 water bottles of the recovery drink described above at 415 cal each (830 cal)
  • Total “ride” calories is 1270 for a net positive of 170 cal.

So… at the end of the day, given a) the optimal .6g of protein per kg of body weight; and b) the optimal 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein, then I’m looking at drinking a half gallon of recovery drink for 830 calories after every 1.5 hour TR workout?

Am I completely off on this stuff? Like I said, the fueling during workouts seems to help a lot, but the recovery stuff seems pretty extreme.

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So the way I see it, is that I’m going to get most of my recovery from lunch or dinner.
Would you rather be drinking gatorade and protein or more food?

Lets just say your BMR is 2k and the workout was 1300. 1300 calories in the form of sugar and protein is absurd to me. Eat some oatmeal for breakfast. Add rice and potatoes to your meals. Eat some beans. A big upside to all this caloree burning is enjoying large amounts of real food.


nutrient timing can be a big thing. Your body is primed to use those protein calories for a short window(30-60min IIRC) after exercise. Nothing says it needs to be gatorade and whey, but those are quick and easy to get in and can be kept in the car for post ride mixing.

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I never said not to have post ride recovery snack. But imo breaking even calorie wise every workout is a bit excessive


Trying to pack that much protein into a post workout recovery drink is counterproductive given that the body can only absorb and process for muscle synthesis around 25-35 grams of protein from one meal. What you consume beyond that amount is generally either not absorbed or stored as something else. Similarly, there is a limit on how many carbs your body will be able to actually absorb and effectively process within any given amount of time. Best of luck.

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I guess that’s where I’m getting tripped up. So is the “.6g of protein per kg of body weight” a guideline for daily intake, or for post-workout recovery intake?

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I’ve seen this said so so so many times but never seen a source. What is the evidence of this?

There isn’t one…

Amber’s recommendation was that pre-ride + intra ride fueling should be 1:1. Her recovery shake was on top of that.

Yes, but this should be your intake over the following 24 hours after your workout. You don’t need all of that protein (and won’t be able to absorb that much) in your post workout recovery drink.


This link provides some good info on the subject and also gives additional links. Cheers.

The original question was about recovery drinks, but it ended up venturing into nutrition strategy and timing. So forgive me if this answer is more than what anyone wants.

I always think about it in 2 “big buckets” 1) my regular food and 2) my training fuel. This way when I don’t train I have guidelines and then when I do train I have guidelines. I also have a few notes about this, my ride fuel can be before (usually 20-60 grams of carbs) and during the training but it comes from my ride fuel bucket and is estimated by the amount of calories I generally burn in a training session. My post-training recovery food comes from my regular food bucket. This is because it’s more about timing of my regular food on a training day. Generally I use a 3:1 ratio for a recovery drink…about 20 grams of protein and 60 grams of carbs (320 calories).

Obviously this is what personally works for me, I use them as guidelines, and I make adjustments everyday (adjusting for training time of day, training duration, training stress, training intensity, do I want a caloric gain/deficit that day, etc.). This is an example of a regular day for me:

Sample Day


My general strategy is this:

  • If it’s longer than two hours do a little extra pre-ride fueling that is carb heavy but not straight sugar. An extra 50g is enough.
  • Hit 90g/hour during the ride. Shove as much as possible in your bottles. I’m tolerating about 100-120g in a large bottle. Whatever you can’t get in your bottle take as gels jellybeans whatever.
  • Sometimes running that rich starts to make my brain, gut, etc revolt. Something denser and a little savory like a cliff bar settles everything down.
  • If the timing works out… just have lunch or dinner after the ride. Otherwise 200kcal from a recovery drink is ‘enough’. Real food is better, but recovery powder is fine.

All this is easy on a trainer. Getting it all down during a group ride is still beyond me.


10-30g of protein, 30-50g of carbs is a good recovery meal

It could be a shake

It could be some Ezekiel Cereal with milk

It could be some tacos

It could be two bananas and a chicken breast

Eat or drink what tastes and sounds good, and is easy to get based on the circumstances.

You don’t need to overthink it.

If you are hungry, eat a bit more 20-30 minutes later.


mmmm…chocolate milk


Thanks @ColoradoJames, this is just the kind of breakdown I was looking for. I’m happy to find out don’t need to eat .6 grams of protein per kg of body weight in recovery while keeping a 3:1 ratio of protein to fat in the 20-30 min post-workout replenishment window. lol

I’m curious: what do you use to fuel your rides/workouts? If you’re getting 510kcal/hour that would be 4-5 gel packets per hour, right? Presumably you’re drinking mix? Do you supplement that with protein during the workout?


It’s funny, in the past I would just chug a bottle of chocolate milk (14 oz of Nesquik, cause that’s what was in stock at the corner store), but I was trying to get a bit more scientific–which led me to the point where I was staring at the prospect of chugging a half gallon of gatorade spiked with a liquiifed cow’s worth of whey protein. Maybe I’ll stick to the brown stuff for now…

I eat normal food before my training session to take care of 1/2 to 3/4 of the fuel needed for my first hour. This varies based on glycemic index and time before the training session. So it could be some toast and jam right before, or some cream of wheat a little ahead of time or some roasted sweet potatoes 2 hours before. Then when I’m on the bike/trainer I like to start “nibbling” after 30-45 minutes into the ride. Fueling while on the trainer is easier because you can usually eat smaller amounts more frequent. This helps me because I like to eat more homemade substantial food, like pancakes, waffles etc. and it limits the amount of GI stress. If I don’t have homemade food I’ll eat fig newtons or bars. Mid session I start to move towards gels or blocks. Towards the end I do more liquid calories…less than 2-2.5 hour rides the calories from something like Skratch Hydration is enough to get me through the last 30-45 minutes if I have fueled properly before and during up to that point. On longer rides (generally not indoor) that are more than 2.5 hours, one of my bottles is a product like Skratch Superfuel and that alone can get me through the last 30 minutes to an hour. I’ll also use that bottle of Superfuel to supplement earlier in the ride but I try to leave 1/2 the bottle full for the last 30-60 minutes.

So let’s say that I am planning a 2 hour session like Galena +3. Below is an idea of what I might do (a little more on fat than planned, but I’ll take out of my “regular day bucket” and try to have 40 grams or less in my regular meals. If I wanted to go a little easier on Galena +3 or have a caloric deficit, I would cut out the Cliff bar, or reduce to 2 Cliff blocks, or the honey, etc. I always have a “maximum” plan and then reduce based on the day and how I feel.