Sunday, September 30, 2001 - Nutrition

- By: Kelly Anne Erdman

Dietitian for the National Sport Centre Calgary (NSCC),

University of Calgary Sport Medicine Centre, 220-8232


When it comes to nutrition for exercise recovery there’s only one thing you need to remember and that is GRAPES.  GRAPES represents dietary components you need to ensure you have done your best with your nutrition for optimal exercise recovery.  Let’s take a closer look.


G:  for Glycogen.  Your glycogen (energy reserves) needs to be restored by eating ample carbohydrates.  The harder your work-out or competition, the more glycogen you have used.  Aim for at least 2 grams of carbs per kilogram of your body weight (e.g. if you weigh 170 lb. or 77 kg you’ll need 77 kg x 2 = 154 grams of carbs). Consume your carbs right after training when your body is most receptive to re-fuel. Opt for high glycemic selections for faster absorption.


R:  for Rehydration.  Weight yourself before and after exercise. The weight you have lost reflects your fluid losses. For every pound (or 0.5 kg) of body weight you have lost directly from exercise, rehydrate with 3 cups (750 ml) of fluid. Choose water, sport drink, juice or milk; don’t count caffeinated or alcoholic beverages for rehydration.


A:  for Antioxidants.  As a result of your training or competition your body has been stressed, that’s the purpose of training.  This physical stress can cause you to produce free radicals (FR).  These FR’s can damage your body cells, e.g. red blood cells, muscle cells, etc. and that’s where the antioxidants come in.  The antioxidants (beta-carotene, vitamins C & E, selenium, etc.) act as scavengers to make the FR’s ineffective. Select antioxidant-rich foods (refer to list).


P:  for Protein is essential to rebuild and repair tissue damage from training and competition, especially if you will have another hard work-out or competition within the near future.  Aim for protein at about ˝ to 1/3 of the amount consumed in carbohydrates.  For example, the 77 kg athlete (170 lb) will need between 51 – 77 grams of protein consumed within 2 hours after exercise, once again, the sooner the better. Calculate your protein from supplements and food sources.


E:  for Electrolytes (e.g. sodium, potassium and chloride).  Generally you sweat more water than electrolytes, with your electrolytes becoming more concentrated in your body.  However, if you rarely salt your foods, and rarely consume processed food from a can or box, you may be at risk of low sodium levels, particularly if you are an endurance athlete.  If your training or competition is at least 3 hours of non-stop activity you could benefit from the electrolytes within a sport drink for recovery (& during exercise).  Sodium and carbohydrate flavoring improves taste immediate absorption and fluid retention.


S:  for Supplements may help to boost your immune system, combat stress, facilitate recovery and keep you healthy.  Refer to the Antioxidants “A” (all of which will enhance your immunity and therefore help your resistance to illness).  Zinc at 15 – 30 mg a day, B-complex vitamins, and L-Glutamine (2 - 5 grams after exercise) may also boost your immune system, help handle stress and maximize your exercise recovery. Some athletes may require an iron supplement; if in doubt then get your iron checked. A multivitamin and mineral supplement may be an assurance for good nutrition, especially if you travel for competitions. Herbs are poorly regulated in Canada and are therefore not recommended because of the risk of undeclared ingredients and the potential for a positive test for banned substances. Consult a dietitian or team physician regarding appropriate supplements for your individual needs.


Two Examples of How Easily G.R.A.P.E.S. Can Work



Case 1:  a 140 pound (64 kg) female swimmer after a training session requires at least:


G – 128 grams carbohydrate (i.e. 64 kg x 2 grams carbo’s per kg)

R – 1.25 litres (5 cups) of fluid to rehydrate (based on pre- and post-workout body weight)

A – Centrum Protegra supplement, antioxidants within carrot, broccoli, juice, marinade, and sesame seeds

P – 43 grams of protein (one third the amount of carbohydrate)

E – Sport drink to replenish electrolytes (sodium, potassium)

S – Multivitamin/Mineral supplement (e.g. Centrum Protegra)


Our swimmer chose the following meal after training to fulfill her exercise recovery nutritional needs:

            500 ml (2 cups) sport drink, 250 ml (1 cup) juice, 250 ml (1 cup) milk, 250 ml water

            1 ˝ cooked chicken breasts

            1 raw carrot

            1 cup steamed broccoli

            1 cup of steamed brown rice

With additional calories from butter, marinade for chicken and toasted sesame seeds on her broccoli.




Case 2:  a 175 pound (80 kg) male speed skater requires the following nutrition after training:


G – 160 grams carbohydrate (2 grams carbo’s for every kg of body weight; 2 x 80 = 160 g)

R – 1.75 litres (7 cups) to rehydrate (based on pre- and post-workout body weight)

A – Centrum Protegra, additional 200 I.U. vitamin E, additional antioxidants from V8 Splash, spinach salad, almonds, strawberries, olive oil and tomato sauce

P – 53 to 80 grams of protein (1/2 – 1/3 the quantity of replacement carbohydrate)

E – electrolytes from V8 Splash, salt shaker, spinach salad, barbecue sauce

S – 15 mg zinc, along with supplements mentioned above


Our speed skater chose the following foods after training to fulfill his exercise recovery nutritional needs:

            ˝ serving of a protein recovery supplement made with 250 ml (1 cup) milk

            500 ml (2 cups) V8 Splash beverage

            1 litre (4 cups) water    

2 barbecued, lean burger patties with barbecue sauce

            2 cups cooked pasta with tomato sauce

            2 cups spinach salad with strawberries and almonds

Additional calories from salad dressing and olive oil


National Sport Centre Calgary

Nutrition for Exercise Recovery


By: Kelly Anne Erdman, R.D.

National Sport Centre Calgary, University of Calgary Sport Medicine Centre


1.     How intense was your workout?

Extreme           Very Intense    Moderately Intense      Somewhat Intense       Little Intensity


2.     How was the volume (i.e. constant duration) of your workout?

Extreme           High Volume    Moderate Volume         Low Volume                 Minimal Volume


3.     Calculate your weight in kilograms:

Weight in pounds multiply by 0.45 = weight in kilograms


Wt in pounds_______ x 0.45 = _______ kg


4.     How much carbohydrate will you require to recover from your workout?

(a)   Weight in kg x 2 = _________ grams of carbohydrate

(b)   Or use weight in pounds x 1 = ________ grams of carbohydrate


5.     How much protein will you require to recover from your workout?

(a)   Strength/power athletes: use your carbohydrate calculation 4(a) above _______ and divide by 2 = __________ grams of protein


(b)   Endurance athletes: use your carbohydrate calculation 4(a) above _________ and divide by 3 = ___________ grams of protein


6.     How much fluid will you need to rehydrate?

(a)   Pre-exercise body weight _____lb or kg 

(b)   Post-exercise body weight_____lb or kg

(c)    Pre-weight MINUS post-weight =______lb or kg Weight difference

(d)   Drink 3 cups (750 ml) for every 1 lb (0.5 kg) weight lost

(e)   3 cups x _____lb = __________cups to rehydrate


7.     How could you save time to have your recovery foods/fluids readily available ?


8.     Choose high glycemic foods when planning your recovery meals. Which choices would you prefer?


9.     Choose antioxidant rich selections when planning your recovery meals. Which choices would you prefer?


Listing of Glycemic Index of Foods from High to Low: (high glycemic foods may be absorbed faster than low glycemic choices and therefore speed exercise recovery)

(High Glycemic) Potato / Corn Flakes / White and Whole Wheat Bread / Corn / Chocolate Bars / White Rice / Brown Rice / Dried Fruit / Crackers / Table Sugar / Peas / Oatmeal / Banana / Sweet Potato / Pasta / Juices / Whole Grain Rye Bread / Fruit / Beans-Legumes / Pure Fructose / Protein-Rich foods / Fats (Low Glycemic)


Listing of Foods Containing Antioxidants (Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Beta-Carotene): (antioxidants help keep your body cells healthy and minimize cell damage)

Citrus Fruit, Papaya, cantaloupe, kiwi, strawberries, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, peppers, potato, juices, carrots, spinach, Swiss chard, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, mango, vegetable oils, margarine, wheat germ, nuts, seeds

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