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Building a Beverage for Recovery From Endurance Activity: A Review

Spaccarotella, Kim J1,2; Andzel, Walter D1

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: November 2011 - Volume 25 - Issue 11 - pp 3198-3204
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318212e52f
Brief Review

Spaccarotella, KJ and Andzel, WD. Building a beverage for recovery from endurance activity: A review. J Strength Cond Res 25(11): 3198–3204, 2011—Recovery beverages are commonly used by endurance and team-sport athletes during the time between exercise sessions. Practical recommendations on the optimal nutrient composition of these drinks and timing of their consumption are therefore needed. This article summarizes research to date on the use of recovery beverages after aerobic activities and provides the following recommendations for practitioners on the optimal formula and timing of use for endurance and team-sport athletes. Current evidence suggests that, to maximize glycogen resynthesis, athletes should consume about 1.2 g carbohydrate per kilogram body weight as glucose and sucrose immediately after exercise and each hour thereafter for 4–6 hours postexercise. Alternatively, they may consume 0.8 g·kg−1·h−1 in combination with 0.4 g·kg−1·h−1 amino acids or protein. Liquids provide valuable fluids for rehydration, and an ideal recovery beverage should not only contain carbohydrate and protein but also contain electrolytes, including about 0.3–0.7 g sodium·per liter fluid to help restore sodium lost through sweat. Commercial beverages with this type of nutrient composition are effective, and recent work indicates that chocolate milk may be as effective as or superior to these in promoting recovery. Research regarding the effects of specific types of amino acids and antioxidants on recovery is mixed; thus, further investigation is needed before specific recommendations about these nutrients can be made. Future studies that include women and athletes representing a variety of sports, ages, and training levels and that use consistent methodology will lead to a better understanding of the effects of postexercise intake on recovery.

1Department of Physical Education, Recreation and Health, Kean University, Union, New Jersey; and 2Department of Biological Sciences, Kean University, Union, New Jersey

There was no conflict of interest for any of the authors.

Address correspondence to Kim J. Spaccarotella, kspaccar@kean.edu.

© 2011 National Strength and Conditioning Association