I hate to break it to you, but beer is not a recovery food.
Not even the 95-calorie, fit-people-grace-the-advertisement-for-it, low-carb, one-step-better-than-water beer.
I know… that makes me sad, too.
But as we work our way into the cycling season and we shed some of our winter habits, we need to begin to consider how we fuel the machine before, during, and after our rides. And today, I’d like to remind everyone that the after part of the equation is one that is just as important as the two that precede it.
In today’s world of modern science and minute-to-minute changes in nutritional research and recommendations, there is a general consensus that most athletes should recover and refuel with protein within 30 to 60 minutes of finishing a workout to aid in the repair of muscle. Carbohydrates are also required to replenish glycogen stores that are depleted during a strenuous or long ride.
How much protein and carbs you need is determined by your size and the level of difficulty of your ride, among other things, and the ultimate benefit of what kind of post-ride recovery food or drink you consume may depend upon your gender. (I have read that men should consume protein from a liquid source – such as a recovery drink – and women should consume food as a protein source post-ride… but I am sure the jury is still out on that particular point.)
There is a myriad of choices out there and finding what works for you may take a bit of experimentation, but as we move into the summer months and the days and rides both get longer, it’s worth remembering that “recovery” is not a four-letter word. When done properly, it can make your rides that much more beneficial and enjoyable.
And, yes, you can have your beer, too.
Note: The author is not a licensed nutritionist. She’s not even an unlicensed nutritionist. Please consult a nutritionist or your physician for advice tailored for your situation.