The need for fluids after a hard workout is well known, but what’s the best approach?
Dr. Vonda Wright, a marathoner and orthopedic surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Center for Sports Medicine, says marathoners are so depleted after a race, she advises they reach for lukewarm fluids instead of icy ones for faster absorption.
“What your body does immediately is to try to make everything in it 98.6 degrees,” she said.
For rehydrating after workouts lasting under an hour, water is the preference of most specialists.
But after a hard session — defined by most specialists as weight-resistance or endurance workouts of longer than one hour — athletes typically are also depleted of essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein that cannot be made by the body. Amino acids help the body repair itself.
Gregory Cloutier, project manager for the Human Performance and Exercise Science lab at Northeastern University, suggests athletes have two cups of low-fat or fat-free milk post exercise because milk is rich in essential amino acids and sugar.
“Sugar helps the body absorb that protein for recovery and repair,” he said.
For athletes who can’t stomach milk, Cloutier recommends whipping up a smoothie, for instance using soy milk (which does not contain the essential amino acids) combined with a whole grain such as brown rice. The combination would produce the essential amino acids, he said.