Post-exercise recovery is a broad term that refers to the restoration of training capacity. After training or competition, there is fatigue accumulation and a reduction in sports performance. In the hours and days following training, the body recovers and performance is expected to return to normal or improve. ScienceDirect, PubMed/MEDLINE, and Google Scholar databases were reviewed to identify studies and position declarations examining the relationship between nutrition and sports recovery. As an evidence-based framework, a 4R's approach to optimizing post-exercise recovery was identified: (i) Rehydration-a fundamental process that will depend on the athlete, environment and sports event; (ii) Refuel-the consumption of carbohydrates is not only important to replenish the glycogen reserves but also to contribute to the energy requirements for the immune system and tissue reparation. Several bioengineered carbohydrates were discussed but further research is needed; (iii) Repair-post-exercise ingestion of high-quality protein and creatine monohydrate benefit the tissue growth and repair; and (iv) Rest-pre-sleep nutrition has a restorative effect that facilitates the recovery of the musculoskeletal, endocrine, immune, and nervous systems. Nutritional consultancy based on the 4R's is important for the wise stewardship of the hydration, feeding, and supplementation strategies to achieve a timely recovery.
Keywords: carbohydrate conformation; muscle soreness; physiological adaptation; protein synthesis; rehydration; sleep hygiene.