Commercial exercise recovery drinks may be convenient, but they're also expensive and typically include artificial flavorings, sweeteners and preservatives. By contrast, you can prepare a homemade exercise recovery drink quickly with fresh, nutrient-dense ingredients for a fraction of the cost. Have everything you need on hand so \you can consume your drink within 30 minutes of exercising. Doing so will help repair muscle tissue, restore diminished glycogen stores and reduce fatigue, says University of Texas at Austin professor of kinesiology and health education Dr. John Ivy.
Add Enough Carbohydrates
An effective exercise recovery drink should supply 30 to 90 grams of carbohydrates. During a workout, you use glycogen, your body's storage form of glucose, for energy. To replenish your depleted glycogen, you'll need plenty of easy-to-digest, low-fiber carbohydrates post-exercise. Good sources can include low- or nonfat dairy products like milk or yogurt, soy milk, honey, fresh or frozen fruit or chocolate syrup prepared from unsweetened cocoa powder and sugar. A typical recipe might get its carbs from 10 ounces of soy milk, 1 cup of yogurt and 1 cup of fruit.
Stir in Some Protein
Your body needs protein after exercise to repair muscle tissue damaged during physical activity, as well as to maximize your body's ability to grow new muscle tissue until your next workout. Aim to include 15 to 30 grams of protein in your homemade exercise recovery drink. Dairy products, including milk, yogurt or cottage cheese, are common choices because they double as a carbohydrate and protein source, though you can also use powdered whey protein. A drink made with 2 cups of nonfat milk and 5 ounces of yogurt supplies 30 grams of protein.
Include Vitamins and Minerals
When you exercise, your body loses essential vitamins and minerals such as potassium, magnesium and sodium to sweat and energy metabolism. Include rich sources of these nutrients in your recovery drink by incorporating fresh, frozen or canned fruits or vegetables. Typical nutrient-dense choices might be bananas, berries like strawberries or blueberries, oranges or pineapple. Some sports nutrition experts such as Peak Performance editor Andrew Hamilton suggest adding a small amount of salt as a source of sodium, though you should avoid doing so if you have high blood pressure or are on a low-sodium diet.
Fill It Out With Fluid
You can choose milk, plant milk, water, coffee, fruit juice, vegetable juice or a combination of any of these for your exercise recovery drink. Include at least 2 to 3 cups of liquid to help replace the fluids you lost while active. If you choose water, ESPN nutrition writer Kristen Drybread suggests adding a small amount of baking soda, which may lessen muscle soreness after exercise. Coffee may seem a strange addition, but research published in the "Journal of Applied Physiology" in 2008 suggests you'll absorb carbohydrates faster from your recovery drink if caffeine is included.