What and When to Eat for the Perfect Recovery

by Caitlin Boyle from Healthy Tipping Point

Marni Sumbai is a five-time Ironman triathlete, a vegetarian and a registered dietitian with a Master of Science in exercise physiology. Needless to say, she knows a thing or two about fueling endurance workouts.

Many athletes focus on the physical aspect of their workout, but Marni believes that the eating part is just as important. While it’s hard to make blanket statements about what everyone should eat after a hard ride, there are some basic concepts that apply to all athletes. 

Pay Attention to Protein and Carbsmoxie cycling smoothing almond cherry workout cycling jersey women's

“The perfect post-workout recovery meal is one that can be digested well and provides key nutrients to your body,” says Marni, who advises filling up on a combination of protein and carbohydrates.

The moment you step off your bike, reach for a healthy snack. Marni recommends immediately eating 10-25 grams of protein to begin repairing your muscles. Healthy options include yogurt, milk, protein powder or a protein bar. After her last hard workout, Marni drank a glass of protein powder drink mix while stretching and cooling off in the bathtub.

Your recovery meal, which you should eat within an hour after your workout, should include another 15-25 grams of protein and 30-60 grams of carbohydrates. While some fat is healthy, opt for less fat in your recovery meal, as Marni says it can interfere with digestion. And while some cyclists can eat a “normal” meal, such as chicken, veggies and rice, others may find that they have a sensitive stomach after a hard workout and need to eat something like a smoothie or several protein bars. “Every athlete is different,” she says.

And remember – the perfect recovery really begins during your workout. “Without the right fuels to support training, athletes who are riding long and hard may find their body in a compromised state where no amount of nutrition can undo improper (or lack of) timing of nutrition during a workout,” says Marni, who recommends taking in liquid calories throughout your long rides.

Curious to learn more about fueling for endurance events? Follow Marni on her website, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

If you are the type of athlete who has a sensitive stomach post workout, try this deliciously easy smoothie for easy digestion.

Cherry and Nut Butter Smoothie

Makes 1 

1 cup soymilk

1/4 cup frozen cherries

1 cup raw baby spinach

2 tablespoons almond butter

1 banana

2 scoops vanilla protein powder

Add soymilk and cherries to a blender and pulse until all frozen pieces have been incorporated. Add remaining ingredients and blend on high for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Serve immediately.


For a meatless option, try this nutrition stacked version of French toast any time of the day.

peanut butter french toast moxie cycling women's cycling jersey caitlin boyle

For a meatless option, try this nutrition stacked version of French toast any time of the day.

Marni’s PB&J French Toast with a Side of Eggs is a great balance of sweet and savory, providing the right amounts of carbs and protein to aid in recovery. Find the full recipe at Marni’s Blog.

And if you are a grab-and-go eater post workout, bake a batch of these easy quiches that are the perfect size to quickly reheat and enjoy as you head out the door.

moxie cycling women's cycling jersey food caitlin boyle recovery food

Savory Turkey Bacon Egg White Mini Quiches

Makes 6

5 eggs

1/2 cup chopped spinach

1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

2 pieces uncooked turkey bacon, cut into thin strips

1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Sprinkle of pepper

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a cupcake tin with non-stick cooking spray. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Mix in spinach, mushrooms, turkey bacon, cheese and pepper. Pour mixture evenly into cupcake tin and bake for 30 minutes, until brown. Serve quiches with toast for carbohydrates.

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