Proper nutritional recovery is vital to performance. Failure to replensih fluids and fuel after training can quickly result in sore muscles, fatigue and under-performance at your next training session. Here's how to promote full recovery after a hard session in the pool

Priority One

REHYDRATE

Your muscles cannot fully recover until your cells are properly hydrated. So make drinking your priority – start drinking while stretching, before you’ve showered and got changed. The exact amount you need to drink depends on how dehydrated you are after swimming. You can determine how dehydrated you are by weighing yourself before and after training. For each   0.5 kg (1 lb approx) of body weight lost, drink 600 – 750 ml of fluid….water, diluted juice or squash, milk – but not all in one go! Alternatively, use the ‘wee test’ chart below.

Priority Two

REFUEL

You need to replace the fuel (carbs) that you’ve used otherwise you will feel sore, achey and tired during your next session. 

Take advantage of the 30-minute window. This is when your muscles restock energy levels faster than normal. The sooner you supply your muscles with carbs and protein after training, the quicker they will repair and rebuild. SO have your recovery drink / snack ready in your kit bag or in the car to eat on your way home. 

Eat carbs with protein. To help the body repair and rebuild, you need carbs with protein in a ratio of 3:1. Ideally, you should consume approx 20g protein. You can achieve this either in the form of drink (milk) or food (see below). You don’t need commercial recovery drinks!

Opt for a milk drink. Milk, flavoured milk and milkshakes are near-perfect recovery drinks. Research shows that all types of milk after training speed up fuel recovery, encourage muscle gain and even reduce muscles soreness after training. They also help rehydrate the body more efficiently than sports drinks, according to recent studies. Opt for whole, semi or skimmed milk, ready-to-drink milkshakes (e.g. Yazoo) or make your own yoghurt smoothie from fruit, yoghurt and milk OR milkshake powder and milk. 

Here are some ideas for post-workout snacks supplying 20g protein

1. 500ml of milk or milkshake plus a banana

2. 250ml milk or milkshake plus 2 pots of fruit yoghurt

3. 500ml milk or milkshake plus an oat-based bar or flapjack

4. 200ml milk or milkshake plus 1 pot of yoghurt and 1 slice of toast with honey

5. Homemade milkshake: Blend 1 cup milk, 1 banana, 1 pot yoghurt, 1 tbsp chopped walnuts, 1 scoop chocolate milkshake powder and 6 to 8 ice cubes

6. Fruit yoghurt smoothie: Whizz together 2 pot of yoghurt, 1 banana or a handful of berries and 150ml fruit juice in a blender

7. 50g nuts (e.g. almonds or cashews) plus 2 pots of yoghurt