By Dan Becker. Immediately following vigorous exercise your body opens a "recovery window" that lasts about 20 minutes. This is an opportunity to replenish the glycogen stores in your muscles as your body absorbs carbohydrates and converts them into glycogen at rates up to 3 times the normal rate. For basketball athletes that have just finished a game or practice and will need to perform at a high level later that day or the following day, this 20 minute window is something that you need to take full advantage of.


You need to provide your body with carbohydrates and proteins that can be easily absorbed and brought to muscle cells.  The carbohydrates will refuel your muscles while the protein will help repair muscle tissue that breaks down during exercise.  The forgotten post workout is WATER.  Once you lose more than 2% of your body weight via exercise performance (physical and mental) diminishes.  You need to hydrate your body before, during, and especially after exercise.  One kilogram of body weight lost equals about one liter of fluid.  If you lose 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) of body weight during a workout, you will need to drink 3 liters of water just to recover water lost from that workout.

One recovery drink that provides all three nutrients is chocolate milk.  It’s quick and easy while providing protein, carbohydrates, and water.

Not everyone’s body agrees with milk products after hard workouts like a basketball game or training camp.  I was shown a way to make a recovery drink that was very effective and cost very little by Chris Lewis, who is currently the University of Manitoba women’s soccer coach, a former elite level athlete, and a very bright personal trainer with a ton of education in the field.

I was lucky enough to go to high school with Chris, so when I asked him to help me prepare for a National Team training camp he offered his help.  When I told Chris that these camps consist of two 120 minute sessions per day, performed at maximum effort over the course of three or more days, he started talking about recovery windows and some ways to take advantage of them.  That is when I heard of MALTODEXTRIN for the first time.  Maltodextrin is an easily absorbed complex carbohydrate that was found in all the top brand name recovery drinks.  Brewers use maltodextrin as a sweetener and you could go buy it very cheaply at any brew shop.  Chris gave me a simple recipe for a recovery drink that provides your body with easily absorbed simple and complex carbohydrates and plenty of water…and it tastes great!


1)  Fill a water bottle with one liter of water

2)  Mix in some powdered Gatorade or Kool-Aid mix (Gatorade offers a little more for your body in the form of electrolytes)

3) Stir in maltodexdrin power until the drink can no longer absorb any more of the powder without clumping

4) Add ice to your water bottle/jug and store away until AFTER your training is over.

Once you have tried this drink, you will look forward to the end of training and running over to your bag to slam it back…instant muscle fuel.

I used this drink mix during the training camp with excellent results.  My legs felt very good, when typically they felt more like logs as the camp progressed.  I sustained the ‘bounce’ in my step while most others were falling to glycogen depleted muscles and decreased performance.

I have also used this recovery drink as a coach during the 2003 Juvenile National Championships.  I brought along enough maltodextrin and Gatorade mix for the whole tournament.  We mixed it daily in a large Gatorade jug.  The players sipped it throughout the day and night to keep hydrated and always loaded up a bottle for their gym bags before we left for a game.  Immediately after games we gave the players time to down their drinks.  We played 6 games in 5 days and the players performed very well over the course of the tournament.  I believe that taking advantage of the 20 minute recovery window with our special drink gave us an advantage as the tournament progressed.

If you add an easily absorbed protein to eat along with this drink, you have just created a great "recovery window" fuel.

We all want to perform at a high level and it is important that you understand how your body or your player’s bodies work to maximize performance via nutrition.

A special thanks to Chris Lewis for sharing the knowledge back in the 90’s before the 20 minute window became as prevalent in the sport world as it is today.

I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season!

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