Building a beverage for recovery from endurance activity: a review

J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Nov;25(11):3198-204. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318212e52f.


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.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Athletes
  • Beverages*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Glycogen / biosynthesis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Fatigue / drug effects
  • Physical Endurance*
  • Recovery of Function / drug effects*


  • Amino Acids
  • Antioxidants
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Glycogen