This week we are going to get into some options for refueling after a race/run. There are many options when it comes to refueling out on the market between gels, bars and drinks, but these can get pricey and are not always necessary. The best place to turn to post race/run is your own pantry!
When determining what is needed to refuel, it depends on your activity level. If you are exercising at a modest intensity for 30-60 minutes 3-5 x per week, you can maintain adequate carbohydrates stores be eating a well balanced diet. If you train harder and longer, your muscles need to be refueled immediately after exercising and again at the next meal or snack.
Studies show that the ideal way to fast recovery is consume food and beverages in a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio within 30 min of exercise. You are more likely to store up to 3x more glycogen than if you would wait 2 or more hours. This is because digestive enzymes are at their most active state and your blood is pumping everywhere in your body.
A few years back, two studies were conducted at colleges. One study determined that consuming a whole grain cereal with low-fat milk improved protein synthesis for rebuilding damaged tissues, over consuming just a sports drink. The second study compared sports drinks to low-fat chocolate milk in rate of recovery. The chocolate milk drinkers had less creatine kinase, an indicator of muscle damage when compared to those who consumed the sports drink.
Food not only provides the body nutrients for success in competition, it also helps rebuild lean muscle and replenish glycogen stores in the body. You can get these nutrients via a sports recovery product or you can turn to your pantry and obtain just as effective results. Choose a slightly salty snack or meal that includes whole grains, fruit and dairy. You will supply your body with the needed calcium and phosphorus for bone health, antioxidants for tissue health, potassium to prevent muscle cramping, and sodium to replace electrolytes.
Here are a few recovery choices to keep handy in your pantry:
- Cinnamon raisin bagel with low-fat cream cheese
- Medium banana with glass of low-fat milk
- Fresh fruit smoothie (made with calcium fortified drink)
- Whole-grain bagel with peanut butter
- Low-fat cheese with crackers and juice
- Low-fat cottage cheese with fresh fruit, sprinkled with flax seed.