There is ample discussion on the internet suggesting that we need carbs after exercise (for example here and here). The second link also shows contradicting answers: complex carbs vs simple sugars.

Also, there are suggestions to drink milk chocolate or home-made recovery drink (water, sugar, salt and lime). Both of these drinks contain sugar.

I am cycling daily to my work (about 10km each way) and I am starting weight-lifting next week. I also have healthy and big breakfasts.


Provided my goal is to burn fat and recover my muscles after cycling, can I drink coffee with sugar as a post cycling drink? Or as a post jogging drink on the weekends? I am more concerned about the white sugar aspect, rather than caffeine.

I won't give up on coffee, but I can easily give up on sugar.

  • 1
    How long does it take you to go those 10km? I'm guessing that after ride of that distance you don't need to worry about recovery fuel.
    – CJ F
    May 15, 2014 at 15:03
  • @CJF 25 to 30min of interval sprints. I'm riding a single speed in the city with a few hills. My speed is only limited by traffic, lights and lack of high gears. Otherwise, full speed madness.
    – mai
    May 15, 2014 at 15:12
  • 2
    That makes it a bit more interesting, but I still don't think I'd worry too much about recovery nutrition at that point. It's my understanding that you'll completely deplete your glycogen stores after about 2 hours of endurance training. I know it's not apples to apples, but I seriously doubt you're running on empty after that ride. Given your big breakfast, you'll have plenty of fuel for the AM. Drink some water to stay hydrated and hang on until lunch.
    – CJ F
    May 15, 2014 at 15:20

3 Answers 3


Be careful drinking caffine after exercise, particularly if it's a coffee to go. Think about this. You have just exercised and your heart rate is already high, then you have caffine which elevates your heart rate even higher. I know this wasn't your question, but I wouldn't recommend coffee or any drink with caffine as a post recover drink.

Milk based drinks are fine, as are complex carbs.

Science in sport offer a great range of recovery drinks. http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/science-in-sport-go-energy-sports-fuel-1-6kg/rp-prod31230

They also one called Rego, which I have heard is very good(chocolate flavour)

Alternatively, Chocolate milk would be great.

Depending on the weather you may want to look at isotonic drinks that will replace the electrolytes lost through sweat, as in the summer this could be more of an issue than the carbs.

Hope that helps

  • Haven't thought about the heart rate. Good point! I will try chocolate milk, but none of the referenced as they contain Aspartame.
    – mai
    May 15, 2014 at 12:47
  • Good point about the aspartame - I hadn't noticed that. I'll look for an alternative as well, as usually avoid that too May 15, 2014 at 16:43
  • Interestingly, the psp22 fuel energise blackcurrant flavour doesn't have aspartame.(this is the one I use). I don't know if they've stopped selling it, as I couldn't find a link. I presumed other flavours would be the same, sorry(thought it was strange I hadn't checked, as I normally do) May 15, 2014 at 16:49

This is a very complex matter, but let me try to wrap my head around it.

Do you need simple carbs after a workout?
Well, it depends. After a workout, your glycogen stores are depleted, so your body will want to refill those to work optimally. If there's no glycogen stored in your muscles, your body will have to resort to other sources of energy. Extremely simplified, one could say that you'd burn more fat as long as your glycogen stores are empty.

If you want to utilize that, don't eat carbs, but mind the disadvantages. You might feel tired, be more sore than usual and not recover as fast.

For optimal recovery, though, you will want to refill your glycogen stores, which is most easily done with fast acting (high-gylcemic) carbs. Refined sugar may not be the best pick, though, especially if it's only in a coffee.

So how much then?
I've seen it recommended to take in 30g of simple carbs post-workout to completely restore glycogen stores. Your coffee probably hasn't as much, so you'll likely only partially refill your stores with that. A big glass of chocolate milk might be enough to refill your stores completely, though, so you'll have to consider.

  • Some excellent advice here. I will try to substitute with the chocolate milk for a while.
    – mai
    May 15, 2014 at 12:42

The heart rate issue is Vital. Even though they say a "fit" heart comes down to Resting Rate within minutes after the stop of exercise, MANY still normal hearts don't. In this case coffee is doing you harm.

Instead, if you need the caffeine in the morning at a job requiring good mental output (which job nowadays isn't in this category LOL), then take a MILD (reduced caffeine, like a half shot espresso or less steeped TEA etc) coffee BEFORE you set out on that bike for 10k. It will improve your athletic performance and leave you good for the office work ahead.

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