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Recovery Formula In Crazy Detail: Why, How, When

If there’s one supplement out there that’s generally misunderstood and/or feared, it’s the Results and Recovery Formula. This dextrose (IE- SUGAR!)-loaded  supplement is one I’m constantly asked about. There’s a lot of misunderstanding coming from various sources on when and why to take it so I wanted to cut through the marketing and high level stuff and give a real, in depth look at Why you need it, How to use it and When to take it.

This is a doozy but I bet you’ll learn something you didn’t know… so let’s get right down to business, shall we?

Recovery Formula Defined

The idea behind the recovery formula (IE- the 4:1 ratio: 4 parts carbohydrate to 1 part protein) mix is a pretty recent and revolutionary concept that originated with Pacific Labs’ Endurox product a decade or so ago. The Beachbody Results and Recovery Formula is based off the research done in this muscle and glycogen recovery area.

When you work out you’re stressing your body, breaking down muscle and depleting the energy (glycogen) your muscles use to function. Without restoring what was used, muscle takes longer to recover and muscle growth can be slowed. The Recovery Formula is formulated to immediately counteract the “adverse” effects of a tough workout where your body is pushed.

What The Recovery Formula IS NOT

It’s not a snack. It’s not a “mix-in”. It’s not a meal. It’s not a “treat” to enjoy after a mediocre workout. It’s not “too high” in sugar. It’s not “too low” on protein. It’s not a “gimmick”.

OK, Great…What Does The Recovery Formula DO For Me?

Hard workouts will leave you sore thanks to shredding muscle tissue but the Recovery Formula (taken exclusively in the 20 minute window right after your workout) will reduce (not eliminate) soreness by quickly resupplying your body with ingredients that counteract and soothe the trauma you’ve just thrown its way. Vitamin C, E and Glutamine help reduce Oxidative (the ouch)/Muscle Stress while the sugar (yes, sugar– this is one of the few times you can splurge and it actually helps) spikes insulin which, when triggered post-workout,  has been termed the “Master Recovery Hormone”. The 4:1 was also shown to enhance protein synthesis… which means muscle growth and repair.

Recovery science gets very “sciencey”, but rest assured, there’s a noticeable difference between soreness with and without a Recovery Formula involved and there’s plenty of studies to prove it when compared to just drinking protein or just drinking carbs (I’m lookin’ at YOU, Gatorade):

  • Increases glycogen replenishment by 200%
  • Decreases muscle damage by 50%
  • Increases protein synthesis by 400%
  • Increases endurance by 55% in subsequent workout
  • Yeah, I thought you’d be impressed. For those seeking more proof (and good for you!), read up on it here and in the *citations below.

    When To Take the Recovery Formula:

    There’s two parts to this– Timing and Effort.

    TIMING: Immediately after your workout. The longer you wait to slurp down the Recovery Formula, the less effective it becomes as your body normalizes and begins repairing itself. The “window of opportunity” is roughly 20 minutes and is pretty much kaput by the 60 minute mark. After that, you’re just drinking lots of sugar.

    As a note– you’re OK to eat a meal about 30-45 minutes after taking the Recovery Formula. You need to give it time to do its job and allow your body to absorb and use it.

    EFFORT: The Recovery Formula is most effective when used after a very strenuous workout of an hour or more. Most clinical trials of the 4:1 Recovery ratio were done on subjects going hard two hours or more where they completely exhausted their glycogen stores (IE- BONKED). Chances are, you’re NOT depleting your glycogen stores at even an hour. In fact, I’ve never “bonked” (a complete collapse). I’ve been LOW on energy and struggled through a workout thanks to poor fueling but never gone “belly up”.

    So how much to take? At an hour plus, you’ll probably need the Recovery Formula. Anything less than that you’re looking at MAYBE a half serving– if that. Thing is, you’ll know. If you take the formula and feel “full” in an hour or so, you probably didn’t need as much as you took. If you’re hungry a half hour later? Chances are your body need it, soaked it up and is ready for the next big thing– your recovery meal. As always, follow the guidelines and listen to your body– making adjustments if necessary from there.

    Do I Use The Recovery Formula?

    I totally do… and restock monthly on Home Direct, even. But.. I don’t use it every day and I don’t use it in full servings for every workout. On resistance days I’ll usually take a full serving if I’m bumping up against and hour and a half. On “cardio” days, I may take half a scoop or none at all and go straight to Shakeology for a meal. And on “rest” days? I leave it in the cupboard. Basically, I follow the guidelines outlined in this article.

    So there you go. In short, think of yourself as a car– you’re using gas to drive your workout, but you don’t need to overfill the tank when it’s done.

    Got more questions, comments or anything in between? Leave them below or get hooked up with free coaching (from yours truly) right here.

    *Ivy JL, Goforth HW Jr, Damon BM, McCauley TR, Parsons EC, Price TB. Early post-exercise muscle glycogen recovery is enhanced with a carbohydrate-protein supplement. Journal of Applied Physiology. 93: 1337-1344, 2002.

    * Levenhagen, DK, Carr C, Carlson MG. Postexercise protein intake enhances whole-body and leg protein accretion in humans. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 34: 828-837, 2002.

    *Williams, Michael B., Raven, Peter B., Fogt, Donovan L., and Ivy, John L. Effects of recovery beverages on glycogen restoration and endurance exercise performance. J Strength Cond Res, 2003 Feb;17(1):12-19

    *Williams, M., J. Ivy, And P. Raven. Effects Of Recovery Drinks After Prolonged Glycogen-Depletion Exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise. 31(5)S124, 1999.

    *Zawadzki KM , Yaspelkis BB,Ivy JL. Carbohydrate protein complex increases the rate of muscle glycogen storage after exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology. 72:1854-1859, 1992. 

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    8 Comments : Leave a Reply

    1. Jim says:

      Best detailed explanation of the recovery formula that I’ve seen.

    2. Danv says:

      Thanks, Jim!

    3. Josh Spencer says:

      Awesome post bro! I ‘m literally addicted to the Recovery Formula..

    4. Danv says:

      Thanks, Josh. It’s good stuff– and the best part… it WORKS like gangbusters.

    5. Ted Gore says:

      Yes, someone explains it! So much confusion out there about this.

    6. Karen says:

      agreed… keeps me from bonking… love it!

    7. Noel says:

      I’m currently doing p90x3 which are only thirty minute workouts but still pretty intense. I’ve been taking a full serving (one scoop) of the results and recovery formula on any days I use weights or the pull up bar. I haven’t used it on cardio, agility, or yoga days. Is this the proper way to use it or should I not be using at all on a 30-minute work out program? Thanks for the article! (I’m a petite female)

      • Coach Dan V. says:

        Hi Noel-

        Good news is you’re using it correctly. I might use a little less where you don’t typically start draining glycogen stores to zero outright- especially in a 30 minute program.

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