Post Workout Nutrition/Hydration

Hi all,

Post workout nutrition is probably my weakness. Usually after a workout I might take on some additional water but that’s about it. I recently had a couple of really hard days, but felt good, followed by a couple days of absolutely nothing in the tank, almost no motivation to work out, and was very sleepy even though I slept a normal amount. Not tired necessarily but sleepy. I then took on probably way too much Powerade and the next day felt fantastic. Was this my body telling me I needed some electrolytes/sodium?

What are you doing for post workout nutrition and hydration? I usually drink nothing but coffee in the morning and water through the day and my meals are pretty low on salt. I’m currently in the 6th week of the half distance triathlon base plan. Thanks all!!

Or carbs!

For structured interval rides or multiple hours of endurance pace, I do a recovery shake right afterward. Same with days I’ve got another workout coming up later in the day. Based on comments from @ambermalika I’ve switched away from any dedicated recovery powder to a mix of sports drink powder and protein powder to achieve 30g of carbs and 10g of protein. However, after realizing that my sports drink powder is 95% sugar, I’m thinking about simplifying again to protein powder, sugar, and salt to get the same macros.

Keep in mind that sodium requirements will vary a lot between individuals, so the right amount of sodium for you is… up to you. Nothing anyone else does is likely to be any more appropriate for you than what you’re already doing.


A PB&J sandwich with a bottle of water is my go-to post workout meal. I usually get on the trainer between 6:30 and 7:30pm, so I’m looking for something to fill me quickly so I can shower and get to bed.

After a particularly hard or long workout I’ll usually have a large glass of chocolate (whole) milk and a large breakfast.

Are you fueling before and during the ride? If so, then you shouldn’t be too low on fuel after, and wont have to drink an odd amount of sugars etc. I only have sugary drink, Gus, etc immediately before or on the bike… and I need much less if my workout is at a time where I can fuel with lower GI food 2-3 hours prior.

You can have a nice breakfast with whole food, or a shake, or whatever your normal intake is (assuming its good stuff) after and be OK if you fuel before and during.

Are you using any specific products? What type of protein would you suggest?

They’re on the Half Triathlon base plan right now, which means there are a lot of two-a-day workouts (9 workouts in 6 days each week, more if they do any strength training outside the plan). In that case, taking specific steps to restore muscle glycogen quickly can help them perform better in the subsequent workout.

Unless / until I switch to straight sugar, I’m using Gatorade powder (which, like I said, is pretty close to straight sugar). I think I have Optimum Nutrition brand whey protein, but whether it’s whey isolate or hydrolyzed or whatever, I have no idea. Other than ON having a good reputation for their labels being accurate, and whey seeming slightly preferable to egg or soy protein, the brand or kind of protein is very low on my list of priorities. Since I use it regularly over long periods of time, cost per serving is one of my biggest concerns.

I’ve also used chocolate milk quite a bit, it’s got the same macros and I do prefer more “real” food. However, it’s not as easy to throw in my gym bag if I’m headed to the pool or meeting people for a run or anything.

Definitely! Didn’t catch that detail initially. Guess I stopped reading before the last sentence =)

Awesome, Thanks so much for the info! I was looking at doing a gatorade powder and some whey protein so glad I was on the right track.

Also it’s 11 workouts for the mid volume. 2 a days everyday but Wednesday :face_vomiting: :face_vomiting: :face_vomiting:

Fueling before for sure. I have a strong, mostly healthy diet, w/ plenty of carbs but I think I’m lacking on salt which may be part of the problem. I need to get better at fueling during and after as on the bike it’s always just water unless it’s a 2+ hour endurance ride in which case I would take on a gel or 2. Thanks for you help!

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Triathlete here as well. What works well for me is always doing a recovery shake immediately after the first workout of the day then having a proper breakfast an hour or so later when I can get to it. When training gets really high I will do another shake after the 2nd workout too. I can usually tell if I need to add that 2nd one in if I have that sleepy/tired feeling you’re talking about. The more experienced I get the better I get at identifying it, and then proceed to eat everything in sight for a day or two.

My preferred recovery shake is the GU chocolate smoothie recovery powder. It seems expensive, but compared to buying a smoothie at Lifetime or something it’s pretty cheap. Also if you do Amazon subscribe & save you can get 15% off. I do this for all my workout nutrition.

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yeah in addition to whatever electrolytes you need, i would get some carbs and protein in right after to help get ready for the next workout. some people try to manipulate carbohydrate availability because they think that gets you more adaptation, but even if that’s true, you have to balance that against being ready to go again for your next quality session (i.e. balance max adaptation against adequate recovery; they’re not necessarily the same thing).

When i do a shake, I do Skratch labs recovery mix, plus some creatine, plus some (unflavored) protein powder, plus a few spoonfuls of powdered peanut butter, because it is quick and delicious.

After a hard day (meaning above MLSS) it is often hard for me to eat real food immediately after, hence the shake.

After a long easy day, i’ll shove in my mouth whatever is healthy and available.

But there’s definitely no single right answer to this.

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For sodium… I found it very helpful to do the Precision Hydration survey to estimate sodium needs (but I also already knew I’m a pretty salty, pretty heavy sweater). You don’t need to use their products to get value from the recommendations.

For more on the recovery shake, here is one of @ambermalika’s posts I was talking about:

Maybe it was in the episode of the podcast where she broke down the cost, but here is my take: the more expensive per serving your recovery shake is, the more likely you are to use it for “special occasions” (really hard workouts, long rides, etc.) The cheaper it is, the more likely you are to consistently use it all the time. Every dedicated recovery mix I checked was at least 2x the cost per serving of mixing sports drink and protein powder, and only chocolate milk was really comparable. The need to refrigerate chocolate milk (or buy shelf-stable chocolate milk, which is more expensive and involves more packaging, at least in the US) made it less convenient, which again reduces how often I actually use it.

I optimized my approach to maximize consistency of use, which meant (for me) making it as cheap and easy as possible. Other approaches are reasonable too. For example: maximizing flavor so you are happy to drink it! “Whatever Gatorade flavor I have plus whatever protein powder flavor I have” is not always the most palatable combination, and every dedicated recovery powder I’ve tried has been delicious. However, the weird flavors don’t really bother me, or keep me from doing it, so I chose to optimize for cost instead.