You take some time to kick back and enjoy a favourite TV show…
The commercials come on…
There’s an ad telling us that chocolate milk is an exercise recovery super drink! That after a workout we should refuel with chocolate milk.
Is it true? Is chocolate milk a healthy choice?
After all the work and all the sweat is behind you, the one absolute must is the need to rehydrate with a drink of pure, clean water. As your workouts become more intense and/or longer in duration, nutritional replenishment becomes more important. On hot summer days, with most forms of exercise and laborious work I also encourage my clients to replenish their electrolytes.
Okay. You’ve taken the dog a lovely walk, rode your bike around the park, done a bit of gardening or something just as enjoyable though not terrible exerting, you don’t need to worry about post-exercise replenishment. Chocolate milk or other wise. A tall drink of water is a great idea, of course.
If the reason you’re exercising is to burn fat, your post-exercise nutrition strategy should support that goal. A longer cardio session requires rehydration with water, electrolyte support and then waiting for about an hour before you eat a meal. That meal should be well-balanced and healthy, such as a hearty spinach salad add chicken, beef stir fry, veggie omelette, turkey wrap, or protein shake. Please make sure your meal includes a healthy fat.
Post-exercise nutrition becomes an absolute must for intense, heavy and resistance workouts. In this case, your post-workout nutrition plan serves 3 major purposes:
- replenish glycogen (in the liver as well as in the muscles)
- reduce protein breakdown
- increase protein synthesis (muscle repair, growth, maintenance).
Did you know that with intense, heavy and endurance workouts there is a phenomenon known as the ‘post-workout anabolic window‘, a special window of opportunity? During this time, your muscles are primed to accept nutrients that stimulate muscle repair and growth. This window is very short, it opens immediately after your workout and lasts for only 30-ish minutes.
During this window, your nutrition should be in the form of an easily digestible carbohydrate as well as a source of protein. In this particular situation, liquid nutrition is superior to eating whole foods for the increased rate of absorption. You see, the process of digesting foods will take too long and you’ll miss the special window. It’s then ideal to eat a meal within 2 hours. That meal should be well-balanced and healthy with more emphasis on a larger protein portion. Again, please make sure this meal includes a healthy fat.
This is my post-exercise shake recipe that I have immediately after my intense workouts:
- ½ cup of juice (my favs are white grape, apple, pomegranate)
- 1 scoop of protein powder (whey if tolerated; rice, pea proteins are also great)
- water to desired consistency.
Mix ingredients together. Shake. Drink immediately.
Quality is extremely important to me. I am not a fan of commercial sports drinks. I could not have said this any better…
“For most average exercisers and athletes, sports drinks are not only a waste of your money, but more importantly, can actually worsen the health of most who use them. Less than one percent of those who use sports drinks actually benefit from them. Most sports drinks are loaded with things you DON’T want, like refined sugars, artificial colors, and chemicals, none of which are in natural coconut water.
If you exercise for 30 minutes a day at a moderate to high intensity, fresh, pure water is the best thing to help you stay hydrated. It’s only when you’ve been exercising for longer periods, such as for more than 60 minutes, or in the heat, or at extreme intensity levels, where you are sweating profusely, that you may need something more than water to replenish your body.
Besides plain water, coconut water is one of the best and safest options to rehydrate yourself after a strenuous workout. If you need the electrolytes, it will provide them. If you don’t need them, then it certainly won’t hurt you. And as you’re learning, coconut water has a mountain of other health benefits in addition to rehydration, which no commercial sports drink in the world can provide. Depending on how much salt you’ve lost through sweating, you might even add a tiny pinch of natural Himalayan salt to your glass of coconut water.” mercola.com
Chocolate milk to refuel after exercise?
My take? You can do better.