Your recovery between workouts is just as important as the workouts you do on the bike. Recover faster and you will improve faster!
I find many cyclist get stuck into the "body building" phase of eat protein to recover whereas protein is exactly what your body doesn't need right after a workout.
You body is in a catabolic state post exercise. Catabolic, meaning breaking down. Anything you give to it, it will break down and attempt to make for energy. Why? Because it needs energy! Until it gets that energy, it will continue to search for it. Here's the key: carbohydrates are your body's easiest and most direct source of energy, NOT protein. Give it protein and it will waste energy and use that protein for energy rather than what you should be using that protein for, which is rebuilding your body's damaged cells, including your muscles.
So what's the best thing to do:
Give your body what it is searching for: carbohydrates!
How much and when:
Within the first 20 minutes after hard workouts and races, there is a "window of opportunity" to replace these stores faster then any other time in the day. The average 150 lb athlete should pop in 90+ grams of fast absorbing carbs, meaning carbs high in glucose/fructose, right after exercise. Great examples are fruits, chocolate milk, and your favorite smoothie.
Then 1-2 hours later when your body is recovered and has the energy to recover, throw in the protein. At this point your body should be in an anabolic, or rebuilding, phase. This is when it NEEDS the protein. So give it what it needs! Lean protein such as salmon, chicken, or eggs are great.
So next time your friend says get stronger by eating protein right after a ride, you can correct them and tell them the why's and how's of taking in carbohydrates after exercise.
Get this recovery method down, and you will be on your way to quicker and improved race results!