Recovery By The Numbers: A step-by-step guide

We know you're busy. All the more reason to familiarize yourself with your body's recovery clock. To help you instill some good nutritional behavior, we've mapped out your optimum 24-hour protocol for intense training or racing.

May 1, 2001
Outside Magazine

 • 0:00-2:00: The Main Event
This is your race or workout. During activity lasting an hour or less, hydrate with water, drinking four to eight ounces every 15-20 minutes; morethan an hour; hydrate with a sports drink that contains electrolytes.

 • 02:00-03:00: The glycogen window
Somewhere between 20 and 60 minutes after your activity, consume about one gram of carbohydrates for every pound of your body weight, and a fourth as much protein. A 180-pound male would eat 180 grams of carbs and 45 grams of protein; this might consist of a pre-packaged recovery beverage (Food in a Bottle) or whole foods with the proper recovery nutritional balance (The Performance Grocery Cart). The sooner you can ingest this, the better; your body's glycogen production and storage is peaking during this peroid.

• 03:00-05:00 The follow-up meal
Two to four hours after your event, have another meal with the following ratio: 65 percent carbs, 20 percent fat, 15 percent protein. That's pasta with tuna or salmon; a roast turkey sandwich on whole wheat; or a burrito with chicken. Carbohydrates should rank high to moderate on the glycemic index, the scale that evaluates food according to how rapidly it stimulates a rise in blood glucose.

• 05:00-24:00: Rest and relaxation
Over the next 18 hours, follow the 65/20/15 ratio, taking in enough food to round out your total caloric needs, likely between 2,500 and 3,000 for an adult male and 2,000 and 3,000 for females.Also drink plenty of water, devote 15-20 minutes to stretching, and at least eight hours to sleep. Once a week, try—no, force yourself— to get a massage and a soak in a hot tub.

• 20:00-21:00: The pre-race or pre-workout meal
Eat a 65/20/15 meal two hours before your next event or workout to allow time for adequate digestion.

• 23:00-24:00: A final boost
Drink 6-10 ounces of a carbohydrate-rich sports drink 15-20 minutes before your activity to spike you blood glucose level.