Sunday, March 28, 2010

Recovery Drinks- what to take?

I am a religious taker of recovery drinks, when appropriate. I say that because even I know not to take them after a 3 mile recovery run or in the winter when I'm just doing base training and following nutrition periodization (more on that here). But for runs and rides over an hour, or of extreme intensity, I always follow up with a recovery drink right afterwords. I'm not a nutritionist or a scientist, but here's why I think they work for me:
  1. It's ideal to get some good calories, carbs, and protein in your system as soon as possible after a workout. The exact ratios and timing differ by study, but the premise is pretty well proven. When I return after a long, hard workout, the last thing I want to do is make a sandwich, shake, and salad. I'm too tired for that! Recovery drinks are simple to make (mix with water!) and I can start recovering immediately.
  2. I can't take solids while working out or immediately after. This may be unique to me as others have no problem having a ham sandwich and a banana in the middle of their rides, but I can't. It sits there like a rock. I also can't eat solids for about an hour after I stop working out, after my systems calm down. But I'm starving and my body needs recovery fuels. This is why the drinks are perfect for me- they go down easily when other foods won't
  3. They help me feel better the next day and for the next workout. Period. My training intensities and distances have increased and I've been mostly injury free in the last 2 years when I became serious about my sports and started on a sports nutrition regimen. Whether they meet all of their advertised claims I don't know, but they work for me.
Now the question is, what to take? I've taken 4- here is my assessment (a more scientific and comprehensive analysis by Sports Bistro's team coach can be found here).

Endurox R4- This was my first foray into recovery products. The taste is very easy for first-timers (it won our Sports Bistro taste test at the New York Cycle Club's Escape New York ride festival), but the downside is that there is a lot of sugar in it. But it has the 4:1 carb to protein ratio so I know it's got good stuff in it. It really helped in my recovery and I like the Fruit Punch and Lemon Lime flavors the best.

Fluid- A bad name for a great product. I first was introduced to this product when I won a tub of it at a local bike race. It has less sugar but I still like the taste just fine. I love the story that this product came out of an academic thesis, and although it's only been around since 2006 a lot of serious athletes swear by it.

Gu Recovery Brew- This is my newest favorite. I am taking the Orange Pineapple flavor and have to say it is the best tasting of them all. It doesn't have much sugar and has good glutamine, but it has less protein than the others. Perhaps better for a medium workout.

Recoverite- By Hammer Nutrition, this is the gold standard. Although it has a love it or hate taste (it grew on me, but I must admit it took awhile and some can't take more than a sip), it has very low sugar and virtually no additives or things you don't need. You can buy it in giant 60 serving tubs so it can be cost-effective.

If you have another favorite I'd love to hear about it! I'm also looking forward to trying Gatorade's new foray into recovery drinks as well.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a Fluid convert (from Endurox). Lower in calories, and it definitely does the trick. Good stuff.