Post workout nutrition for young athletes

Common belief is protein, protein protein !! . But protein alone isn't adequate. When body's energy stores are depleted during intense exercise it is very important to re-synthese glycogen stores that were lost during the exercise. Thus carb consumption post workout is equally important post exercise, ideally within 1 hour. 

Carbohydrates plays a vital role in relation to physical performance during all types of exercise, especially for endurance activity, lasting longer than one hour. The report by the Scientific Committee on 'Food on composition for Athletes' , particularly recommends carb rich energy foods post exercise.  

The two factors that have been considered to contribute most to the onset of fatigue in exercise, are the depletion of the body's carbohydrate reserve and the onset of dehydration, as a consequence of the loss of water and electrolytes in sweat. During prolonged exercise food and drinks containing carbohydrates and electrolytes, in particular sodium, improve the performance.

The American College of Sports Medicine and American Dietetic Association’s  recommendations for young athletes suggest at least 50% of a young athlete’s diet should be in the form of carbohydrate or between 3 and 8 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body mass dependent primarily on exercise intensity. 


In addition to carbs, protein is also an important part of recovery, particularly if the young athlete is  child participating in high-intensity endurance training whixh may involve repetitive movements. These can cause micro tears in the body over a long period of years and could damage muscle tissue. Protein in post-workout meals aids with muscle recovery and also promotes new muscle growth and muscle synthesis. 

Additionally Omega 3 rich foods together with Magnesium can support the recovery and reduce inflammation. 

To ensure adequate energy, fuel young athletes with foods that they will enjoy eating like yogurts, bananas, rice cakes with peanut or almond butter (if they have no nut allergy or intolerance) which are nutrient rich. Fruit and nut Granola with yogurt provide a nice crunch and taste. 

Some good post activity snack ideas that contain both protein and carbs are:

    • ProYouth Protein Nutrition bars
    • BarsFruit and nut trail mix
    • Peanut butter rice cakes
    • Nutty Granola bars
    • Whole meal egg Sandwiches
    • Baked potatoes with bake beans
    • Chilli
    • Fruit smoothie
    • Juice
    • Greek Yogurt topped with fruits and nuts
    • Chocolate Milk - Sports scientists including the team of experts we worked with at the LSBU Applied Science division believe that Chocolate Milk has been considered effective as an immediate recovery drink especially post endurance activities.
    • Whole meal bread with good quality Manuka honey makes a popular choice in some of our ProYOUth family households. 

When they get home for. a meal, some good post-workout meal ideas can include: 

  • Smoked Salmon wholemeal bagel
  • Whole-wheat pita wrap with lean meat and veggiesOmelette filled with peppers, spinach, cheese combined with wholemeal toast, wrap or even a Spanish Omelette
  • Stir-fry with lean meat, broccoli, peppers, carrots, and brown rice
  • Rice bowl with beans, salsa, avocado, and whole grain chips or tortillas


Given young athletes have a smaller glycogen stores, they may deplete their stores faster than adults thus it is essential to eat a carbohydrate-heavy snack within 30 minutes after training will allow the body to start replenishing glycogen stores (basically refilling energy in the muscles) efficiently.

If the youth athlete is training multiple training sessions or competing multiple times it is essential to ensure their bodies feel repaired and rested for the next training or competition.

Additionally, eating a couple of balanced meals within six hours after training or a competition ensures that the muscles continue with this glycogen repair and recovery.

Very often you may hear them say "I feel sick" a feeling they get when they have pushed themselves hard at training or competition. They may not even have a large appetite. If your athlete doesn’t have a large appetite after their event or practice, try getting them to eat a small snack (or drink a sports drink, if nothing else) first, then a small meal around two and four hours afterwards.


Athletes of course also need to be sure to hydrate after a workout or game (in addition to also drinking fluids before and during). A general rule of thumb is to drink three cups of fluid (preferably water) for each pound lost during competition or training. Smoothies (made with yogurt and frozen fruit) can be a more tasty way to both help replace lost fluids, carbohydrates, and calories.

As we mentioned above chocolate milk is also a great recovery drink because of the balanced amount of carbohydrates and protein it contains. It works well as a natural way to boost recovery without the use of supplements, allowing an athlete to properly refuel and repair their bodies for their next workout (and is also a great source of calcium and vitamin D).


Casein Protein is a slow releasing and Greek Yogurt is a good source of Casein protein and carbs. If you get home late at night after a long endurance activity like swimming, running or cycling Low Fat/ Zero fat greek yogurt topped with chopped ProYouth bars will make a perfect recovery snack as it combined both slow (casein in greek yogurt) and fast release (whey protein in ProYouth bars) with a ample carbs to replenish. Further the other key Minerals like Magnesium will support recovery whilst copper will minimise oxidative stress to cells. 


The best recovery comes with a good night sleep! Make sure your athlete is rewinding and recharging with a good night's rest.!