The time between the end of your session, be it training or racing, and your next opportunity to eat is also important.
To make the adaptations that you want from your sessions you must give your body the building blocks that it needs. High GI carbohydrate (such as white rice, a favourite with pro riders when they return to the team bus) is needed to replenish your energy stores quickly. Fast release protein is also needed to provide the building blocks for muscle rebuilding. It’s important to make sure that you rehydrate adequately, ideally taking in electrolytes to help you maintain your sodium and, therefore, fluid balance.
Ideally you should do this within 30 minutes of finishing your session. If you can eat within this time window then that is ideal. Here you have a choice of using a recovery shake or eating regular foods. The time that you have available is key to what you end up choosing.
If you can cook and eat something within this 30 minute window then you can use regular foods, if however there will be a longer period of time from you finishing to your next opportunity to eat then you should think about having access to a recovery shake in your kit bag to have as soon as you finish. You can always have another small snack such as some soup or a bowl of cereal when you get home.
In summary, taking some time to plan your daily nutrition, especially when you have an evening training session or event, can help to be best prepared for your session and recover properly with the key nutrients that your body needs.
Emma Barraclough is the Senior Sports Nutritionist for Science in Sport, for information please visit www.scienceinsport.com.