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Q: Looking to recovery well post workout? Do zero calorie drinks measure up? Find out what I had to say in the latest issue of the Running Room Magazine. Post workout Athletes want to focus on the 3Rs. Rehydrate, Refuel, Repair.
The simple answer is no. Let me expand. Post workout athletes want to focus on the 3Rs: Rehydrate, Repair and Refuel.
Low calories and zero calorie soft drinks are not part of a healthy diet. These beverages contain artificial sweeteners, artificial colours and sometimes other chemicals that can cause harm to the body, and definitely do not promote recovery. Recent research, out of France, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition online, is suggesting that consumption zero calorie soft drinks may increase your risk for type 2 diabetes.
Post workout you want to put the best quality ingredients in your body to support the repair, replenishment and regeneration of body tissues. Zero calories mean zero fuel and this won’t help with recovery, but rather only add to the stress on the body. If you want the ultimate zero calorie beverage opt for water only.
Rehydrate: Water is your best bet for rehydration. As a rule of thumb, for every kilogram of body weight lost during a training session you want to consume approximately 1 litre of water. It’s equally as important, however, to start your workout in a hydrated state and consume adequate amounts of fluid during exercise. This will help with the recovery phase, as well as aid in performance. If plain water is a little boring for you try adding some lemon or lime juice, or coconut water. After longer, or more intense, sessions also consider the addition of protein and carbohydrates to aid in the recovery process.
Repair: Add a little protein. You need the amino acids to repair and build the muscle tissue post run. No need to go overboard, a little goes a long way; approximately 10 grams will do. Ideal sources include: eggs, chicken breast, fish, lentils, whey protein isolate, vegetarian protein powders such as hemp or blends of brown rice and pea proteins.
Refuel: Don’t forget the carbohydrates, especially after your long or intense workouts. Carbohydrates are necessary for the absorption of protein as well as for the replenishment of glycogen (energy) stores. Ideal sources immediately after exercise are easy to digest options such as fruit (bananas or berries), dates, or finishing your sports product (i.e gel or sports drink) to get the recovery phase started. A more substantial carbohydrate source is still needed within 60 minutes of finishing your workout. On average you are looking for about 1g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight to optimize recovery.