Updated: Oct 17, 2019
Odds are good that you left for practice today with all of your gear. You remembered you skates, stick, and helmet… you may have even packed a phone charger. But, did you also add your crucial “glycogen window” refuel?
Nope, not a protein shake.
I’m talking about essential carbohydrates.
As growing athletes, the body is rapidly using glycogen (energy storages). And, because the body is still developing, these storages need to be replenished frequently (sorry, carb-loading isn’t truly effective before full-maturation).
One of the most crucial times to refill depleted glycogen is 30-minutes post workout. Granted the amount needed varies based on age, weight, gender, and type of activity, but the time-frame remains the same. 30 minutes.
If you’re waiting until you’ve changed, showered, and driven home before consuming carbohydrates, likely the window has already closed.
Choosing nutrient-dense carbs during this period not only replenishes glycogen storage, they also provides essential vitamins and minerals to help reduce fatigue and soreness.
Oranges, carrots, grapes, chocolate milk and bananas with a few almonds/cashews/or pretzels are great options if you’re able to tolerate food immediately post-workout. If not, a small sports drink serving will provide essential carbohydrates and lost electrolytes.
Yes, protein and fat are obviously important, but this “glycogen window” focuses primarily on carbohydrates. It also isn’t designed to be a full meal, but rather a cell replenishing period.