The Facts of Recovery;Banana Cream Pie Smoothie

I am finding an increasing number of athletes using engineered foods for recovery, and paying far  more attention to marketing than to science. The ads for these products generally have some elements of the truth. However, they do not deliver on providing a complete picture to the athlete. They provide only  the information necessary to sell their product!  Before you spend money at the gym for an antioxidant,  dark chocolate, energy  bar with a label that reads “recovery bar” consider the following:

What is the purpose of  recovery?

When is your recovery window?

Why is this important?

The definition of recovery is “to return to a normal state”.  Post exercise, the components necessary to bring back into balance are: fluids, electrolytes, carbohydrates, and protein. Therefore, your recovery meals and snacks should be providing all of these. Sometimes one food provides all components of good recovery, other times more than one food is necessary.

While it is true that the window of recovery is optimal within 60 minutes after exercise, this is only crucial for  elite athletes. These are the individuals who train hard and 6 hours later they are back at it. (For example, if you are a division 1 athlete with multiple daily practices, a soccer player competing in 2 games in the same day, or a triathlete doubling up on daily workouts.) If your  exercise routine allows for 24 hours before you get physical again, you have adequate time to restore muscle glycogen.  Just be sure carbohydrates are the foundation of your meals and snacks along with some protein for rebuilding and repairing muscles.

Your recovery foods  should have 3 to 4 times more calories from carbs than from protein. Some good choices of foods with this ratio include:

Low fat chocolate milk

Fruit smoothie

Turkey sandwich

Oatmeal and skim milk

Why is this important? The reason for recovery is to get your body ready to exercise hard again. Proper recovery will optimize performance. Failure to recover properly will inevitably slow you down. Insufficient fueling of the muscles mean they won’t fire as quickly and athletes will slow down or lose power. Fluid and electrolyte losses that aren’t replaced can cause an athlete to cramp. When the brain doesn’t get the nutrients it needs, the athtlete’s ability to process what’s happening on the field decreases, while also decreasing the athlete’s reaction time.  Not  only will the athlete not make the desired play; a slower reacting athlete is at risk for injury.

As a mom of 2 kids in sports, I spend a good deal of time helping them recover. At our house, the favorite recovery drink is low-fat chocolate milk. Chocolate milk provides all of the components of a good recovery food: fluid, electrolytes, carbs and protein ( in the ratio of 3-4 : 1). Nutritional Profile of 8 oz. Low Fat Chocolate Milk:

150 mg sodium, 425 mg potassium, 8 g protein, 26 g carbohydrate, 154 calories

I also enjoy blending up smoothies. Here is one of my favorites. I discovered this recipe from  Cooking Light and  have made a few minor changes:

Banana Cream Pie Smoothie

1 medium ripe banana
4 oz. skim milk
4 oz. non-fat vanilla yogurt
1 T wheat germ
Directions Slice banana and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze until firm (about 1 hour). Place frozen banana and remaining ingredients in a blender. Process until smooth. Serve immediately. Makes 1 serving

Nutrition Profile:  127 mg sodium,  915 mg potassium, 15 g protein,  56 g carbohydrate, 293 calories

If you are serious about your sport, you should be serious about recovery. The time is now to feel better, perform better and enjoy your journey. What aspects of recovery can you improve?

Diane Boyd, M.B.A., R.D., L.D.N





New Year’s Health Resolutions: Sticking Points

How do you know it’s the first week of January? The gyms are packed and the classes are at full capacity. How long will it last? I am not telling you anything you don’t already know, when I say most resolutions will not be kept. Tom Connellan, author of   “The 1 Percent Solution: How to Make Your Next 30 Days the Best Ever,” reports that  25% of resolutions are abandoned the first week of January. What’s the prospect of lasting the year? BLEAK.  According to Connellan, only 12% of those will last the year.

This post is my attempt to offer you some sticking points (5 tips ) to keep you on track.

TIP 1. Get realistic not perfectionistic. Make sure your goals are reachable and not too lofty. For example, if you are a parent with a full time job and are strapped for time, don’t set a goal of exercising for 2 hours a day. Instead, work in what you can.  Resolve to include more exercise in your daily activities by incorporating small changes like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking a little further away at the grocery store, and spending active time with your kids in lieu of sitting in front of the television.

Perfectionism, also known as   “the all or nothing attitude,” is a resolution killer!  Don’t give up the first time you start slipping. If you are resolving to lose wight by improving your dietary habits and cutting back on portions, don’t let over eating on a given day derail you. Get back on track the next day.

Weak moments do not mean you have failed. This quote is a good reminder of that.  Tweeted by @coytecooper:

“Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.” ~ Marilyn vos Savan

Tip 2. Use Mondays as a fresh start.  This gives you 52 weeks a year to start fresh. According to research conducted by  John’s Hopkins, the week is a notable unit of time in planning and is significant as the beginning of the week. Research has shown that people are much more likely to start a diet or establish other health goals for themselves on Monday. Monday health campaigns is now a national movement backed by three leading public health schools. Join the crowd of people committed to making healthier choices every week.

Tip 3. Use social networking for support. For example, a twitter account will allow you to find both inspiration and  health messaging  or give you the opportunity to offer your own advice to help others. You can read tweets from health organizations and individual professionals, to contestants from the Biggest Loser!  All have common ground in trying to help others make healthy choices.

TIp 4. Reward your positive behavior periodically. Make the reward unrelated to the resolution. For example, if you are trying shun desserts, don’t reward yourself with a banana split. Instead buy yourself a favorite magazine, some cut flowers, or a new bottle of nail polish. You can also give yourself the gift of time; set aside some   “me ” time for yourself to do something you enjoy.

Tip 5. Seek professional help from a life  coach or registered dietitian (RD) . If you are struggling with keeping diet and nutrition related resolutions, a food and nutrition expert (RD) can help. Research has proven nutritional counseling as part of a weight loss program is more effective than without. Dieters lose 6% more, translating to about 10-15 pounds. Dieititians can help you not only with the physical aspects of food,  (calories, fat grams, fiber, etc.) they can assist with the emotional aspects as well. Locate a registered dietitian in your area at or SCANRD.

Remember to be patient. I like to use the song by Gary Allen,  Life Ain’t Always Beautiful, to remind individuals that it’s human to have a bad day now and then. When life gets tough, don’t bury your head in the sand. Face your struggles bravely and  let your success give you confidence to take on new challenges that lie ahead. Have a beautiful day!

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