QUESTION: The fitness magazines and blogs always seem to focus on recovering nutritionally after a workout. This makes sense, so what should I be taking-in to optimally recover?

ANSWER: You’re right—there is a big focus on recovery these days, and for good reason. If you think about it logically, the preparation for your next workout begins right after you finish-up your current workout. Within 45 minutes of finishing a session, your cells are primed for nutrients, so replenishing fluids, carbohydrate, and protein (specifically amino acids) is ideal. The water will obviously help you to rehydrate, the carbohydrate will replenish your glycogen (or stored sugar), and the protein will reduce muscle breakdown and start the process of repair. This tight post-workout timeframe is often called the “window of opportunity.” Consuming a recovery beverage during this period seems like the most reasonable option, especially since hunger is often blunted after a workout. There are a number of different recovery products on the market, but things like BCAA’s or even a homemade smoothie with fruit and protein powder would work well too. The ideal post-workout ratio is 2-4:1 carbohydrate to protein, and since you won’t have trouble finding products that meet this recommendation, the product you choose really comes down to taste and price. Happy shopping!

Andrea Ivins is the club manager and group instructor at Anytime Fitness in Palestine, TX. To submit a question for future articles, please contact the author at palestinetx@anytimefitness.com or thrivingivins.com.