Post-Workout Recovery

Being that I am trying to step up to a new level of competition I have been trying to maximize my potential by getting my diet right. I always ate relatively healthy before but I never fully considered pre and post run nutrition. For endurance athletes, going on a 9 or 10 mile run everyday with long runs and tough workouts thrown in there, recovery is extremely important. Because prolonged activity tends to wear down the muscle as our bodies draw from anything it can, our muscle NEEDS an adequate amount of protein to stimulate muscle synthesis and repair any damage. You are probably thinking "Damage?? Running is damaging my muscles??" Well depending on how hard and how long you have been running or participating in an endurance sport cortisol begins to break down the muscle and causes muscle soreness. However, protein after a workout will block the production of this hormone and add the essential amino acids needed to help build muscle. Sports nutritionists suggest getting this with 15-30min of exercising as this is the optimal window for muscle synthesis. In addition, getting protein in that close to a hard workout will actually help your metabolism stay steady and lengthen you satiety, I'd say that is a double bonus! All of that being said, I have put together some of my favorite products. I have an intolerance to soy so finding a goof protein shake or bar that had at least 10g of protein (it is suggested that 10-20g of protein be ingested after endurance events) was not the easiest thing. I am also lactose intolerant just to throw another variable into the mix. My search had me reading nutrition and ingredients labels looking for the words: gluten-free, lactose-free & soy-free. I found many products while surveying my local whole foods but my problem was that either the product didn't have enough protein or it was too high in calories to eat an hour out from dinner. Finally after a bit of searching and taste-testing these are my favorite thus far:

Protein Powders:

Garden Creations - This protein powder is lactose, gluten & soy free and is made from pea, rice & hemp protein. At less than 150 calories and 25g of protein per serving this a great choice. I suggest it with almond milk as it doesn't mix well with water. I drink it with 8 oz of almond milk vanilla light which adds only 60 calories and tastes great with the powder. Some of the powder sometimes settles at the bottom so shake well.

Nectar Kiwi Strawberry - This is a whey protein powder which is derived from milk however this blend does not contain any gluten, lactose or soy. I just bought this for the first time and am still formulating an opinion but so far I can say that it mixes well and can be completely dissolved in water without  any gritty or weird taste. The flavor actually reminds me of strawberry jello! Coming in at 100 calories per scoop and 24g of protein this is a good option that won't ruin your lunch or dinner. This brand has several flavors which I plan to try if I find that this protein powder is working well. This powder is low carb in case anyone was wondering..

Shakes:

Core Power - I loved the core power shake I tried and love that they have far less ingredients than most protein shakes. These are lactose free but use real milk and the protein from real milk. Also of course gluten and soy free, I loved the taste of the Chocolate Light version and can't wait to try more of the flavors. The light versions have 20g of protein and 150 calories and the regular versions have 26g of protein with 240 calories.

Bars:

Quest Bars - These bars may take some getting used to but I personally love them. Most boast around 20g of protein with 160-210 calories depending on the flavor. With flavors like cookie dough, cinnamon roll, cookies and cream & several more its awesome to see that they are still gluten-free! I have found that bars are the hardest thing to find gluten and soy free and within a reasonable range calories wise.

ALT Bars by Larabar - These new bars by Larabar taste great and are made from only a few ingredients including pea protein. At 10g of protein these are an excellent snack and can be used for recovery after moderate exercise. These bars are gluten and soy free. In addition to tasting great these bars are also easy to find. Buy them at your local target, whole foods, Kroger or Harris teeter! Check the website for flavors.