Good question! The answer to your question is it depends…
The recovery window (of approx. 2hrs post training) is what was originally recommended as the optimal point to eat protein/carbs to recover from the training session/event (at this point our muscles have an increase in uptake of glycogen and also optimising protein levels in the blood to increase muscle make up and slow muscle breakdown shortly after training).
However what the research is now showing is that you don’t necessarily have to eat immediately after if you are going to be eating your next meal within 60mins of that session (so this is still a recovery meal) and also it depends on the intensity/duration/goals of that session.
Examples I would recommend eating in the hour after the session are;
1) You are training twice per day.
2) The session has lasted longer than 1hr and it has been a hard workout/effort required e.g strength, hill reps, weighted uphill hike, high intensity run, hard climbing effort and it is going to be longer than 60mins until you next eat.
3) After fasted training sessions.
4) A big hill day.
If you don’t fuel within the hour following these types of sessions then this could impact recovery and prolong fatigue/cause feelings of fatigue in your next session/session the following day. However it is all very individual so I would take a closer look at training load per day/in the week/training goals etc to then provide guidance.
What the research is now suggesting is that recovery is a 24hr process and it is important to make good food / meal composition choices at each meal (recovery and pre bed as required). But yes it still may be imperative to optimise that window of recovery following training.
Rebecca – Uphill Athlete Dietitian