Few topics in the field of sports nutrition have been more heavily researched than that of post-exercise recovery nutrition. Hundreds of studies conducted over the past 15 years have conclusively shown that when athletes consume carbohydrate and protein soon after completing a workout, their muscles are repaired and refueled faster, and they perform better in their next workout. There's even evidence that athletes who routinely take in appropriate nutrition after workouts lose more body fat and gain fitness faster.
The vast majority of the studies on post-exercise recovery nutrition involve specially formulated recovery products such as Endurox R4, as well as other products whose makers wish to promote them as recovery foods, such as lowfat chocolate milk. This trend has led many athletes to believe that such products are more effective than regular foods. But in fact the few studies in this area that have involved regular foods have shown they work just as well.
There is nothing inherently wrong with using specially formulated recovery products after exercise. However, there are only so many opportunities in the day to consume the high-quality whole foods that should be the foundation of every athlete's diet. If getting your recovery nutrition from packaged bars and chocolate milk prevents you from eating five servings of fruits and vegetables in a day, for example, then its overall benefits are questionable.
One of the advantages of specially formulated recovery nutrition products is that they are typically easy to prepare and consume after exercise, when your energy is low and your appetite may be suppressed. But there are plenty of real, high-quality foods that are also relatively easy to prepare and consume. They're just as effective for recovery and better for overall health than the manufactured stuff. Here are five to consider.
Buckwheat Pancakes With Almonds and BerriesIf you're like many athletes, you find yourself fantasizing about specific foods during some of your longer workouts. Provided these cravings are reasonably healthy, you should feel free to indulge them when you get home. Sometimes the body has a way of telling us what it needs.
I often crave pancakes on long bike rides. But I seldom satisfy this yen by going to the local pancake house. Instead I make my own buckwheat pancakes, which provide lots of carbs for recovery but are made from whole grain and are, therefore, more wholesome than regular pancakes. Also, rather than top them with sugary syrup, I eat them with almond slivers and berries for even more balanced nutrition.