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





Panera Sandwich | Nutritional Perspective

I thought it would be fun and informative to give some nutritional perspective to menu items  at local food chains everyone is  familiar with.  A friend of mine requested  I look at Panera Bread, so I will start with sandwiches at  this “cafe”.  Have I eaten here? Yes, many times, particularly when I traveled with my son during the years he played junior golf. (One summer I actually spent more time in Pinehurst than in Wilmington!)

Let’s face it, most families and individuals have fast paced lives. We rarely stay in one place for long and we are frequently looking for quick and casual food on our travels.  I think Panera fills the bill when it comes to casual and quick. But is it nutritious?  Be careful making choices based on the cleaver taglines added to  menu items such as these:

Fulfill more than your resolutions. Try a nutritious…


Bold Taste. Light feeling…

The only tried and true way of making healthy choices is by looking at the nutritional information.  This is impossible to do when you are hungry and have a line of people behind you praying  you’ll make up your mind before the next solar eclipse of the sun! That’s why I have reviewed the nutrition information for you.  To be  honest, both the hot panini sandwiches and the signature sandwiches at Panera Bread are no better nutritionally than a Big Mac from McDonald’s (some are actually much higher in calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium).

Big Mac nutrition profile:  540 calories, 29 g total fat, 10 g saturated fat, 1.5 g trans fat,  75 mg cholesterol, 1040 mg sodium.

What is the worst choice  at Panera Bread for a hot panini? The Full Steak & White Cheddar on French Baguette packs in : 970 calories, 33 g fat, 13 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat, 120 mg cholesterol and , 1820 mg sodium.

What is the worst choice at Panera Bread for a signature sandwich?  The Italian Combo on Ciabatta packs in: 980 calories, 41 g fat, 15 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat, 145 mg cholesterol and 2620 mg sodium.

Panera cafe sandwiches are  better choices (except for the Sierra Turkey on Focaccia with Asiago Cheese). My pick for a Panera Bread sandwich:  Smoked Turkey Breast on Country:  420 caloires, 3 g fat, 0.5 g sat fat, 0 trans fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 1650 mg sodium (still hefty amount here).

Better yet, order the you pick two with 1/2 of  the Smoked Turkey Breast  on Country and one of the following:

Half Classic Cafe Salad with half low fat Thai Chili Vinaigrette

Low Fat Garden Vegetable Soup with Pesto

All Natural Low Fat Chicken Noodle Soup

Low Fat Vegetarian Black Bean Soup

If you have given the Big Mac the boot, be careful what you “pick up”  at the next casual food joint.  Nutritional information is online.  Look at it and have a plan before you walk through the doors.   Do you have a favorite restaurant  item you’d like reviewed?  Drop me a line in the comments section below or use the “contact me” button to send me an e-mail and I will do it for you!  Happy trails!

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

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