The importance of post-exercise recovery nutrition has been well described in recent years, leading to its incorporation as an integral part of training regimes in both athletes and active individuals. Muscle glycogen depletion during an initial prolonged exercise bout is a main factor in the onset of fatigue and so the replenishment of glycogen stores may be important for recovery of functional capacity. Nevertheless, nutritional considerations for optimal short-term (3-6 h) recovery remain incompletely elucidated, particularly surrounding the precise amount of specific types of nutrients required. Current nutritional guidelines to maximise muscle glycogen availability within limited recovery are provided under the assumption that similar fatigue mechanisms (i.e., muscle glycogen depletion) are involved during a repeated exercise bout. Indeed, recent data support the notion that muscle glycogen availability is a determinant of subsequent endurance capacity following limited recovery. Thus, carbohydrate ingestion can be utilised to influence the restoration of endurance capacity following exhaustive exercise. One strategy with the potential to accelerate muscle glycogen resynthesis and/or functional capacity beyond merely ingesting adequate carbohydrate is the co-ingestion of added protein. While numerous studies have been instigated, a consensus that is related to the influence of carbohydrate-protein ingestion in maximising muscle glycogen during short-term recovery and repeated exercise capacity has not been established. When considered collectively, carbohydrate intake during limited recovery appears to primarily determine muscle glycogen resynthesis and repeated exercise capacity. Thus, when the goal is to optimise repeated exercise capacity following short-term recovery, ingesting carbohydrate at an amount of ≥1.2 g kg body mass-1·h-1 can maximise muscle glycogen repletion. The addition of protein to carbohydrate during post-exercise recovery may be beneficial under circumstances when carbohydrate ingestion is sub-optimal (≤0.8 g kg body mass-1·h-1) for effective restoration of muscle glycogen and repeated exercise capacity.
Keywords: glycogen; post-exercise; recovery; sports nutrition; subsequent exercise.