The Window of Opportunity
The “window of opportunity” is the two hour time period post-exercise where your body has an enhanced ability to take up carbohydrates and protein to start the recovery process. Think of your muscle cell as a sponge…once carbohydrate and protein are supplied to the body, the muscle cell immediately soaks it up. An intense bout of exercise causes muscle glycogen levels to decrease and small tears to occur in muscle fibers. Thus, as soon as exercise is over the body wants to restore glycogen stores from carbohydrate and begin to repair muscle tears from dietary protein. Your goal as an athlete is to eat a snack as soon as possible after a workout or game, specifically within the first 45 minutes post-exercise. Your snack should be a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate (4 grams) to protein (1 gram). Then try to eat a complete meal of carbohydrate, lean protein, vegetables and fruit (low-fat meal) within 2 hours post-exercise.
Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a registered dietitian for Ben Hogan Sports Medicine and serves as the sports dietitian for the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, FC Soccer Dallas, Jim McClean Golf School, Texas Christian University Athletics, and University of Texas at Arlington Athletics. In addition, she is an adjunct professor and dietetic intern preceptor for Texas Woman’s University, Texas Christian University and the University of Texas at Arlington and is a state media representative for the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. . She received her Bachelor of Science degree in speech communications from Texas Christian University and Masters in Exercise and Sports Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.