The Law of the Post-Exercise Drink
Anybody who writes a blog can say something about what you should have as a post workout drink/meal. Sometimes the people who write these blogs, seem to believe they are writing with the intention to inform, but bias seeps through. Without hubris, I can say my blog is truly about facts. I am not trying to sell anything. My goal is to inform you so you are not ripped off, and paying for something that is not effective. So, here are experts in the field, who have come to the same conclusion:
According to the renown sports nutrition expert Nancy Clark, MS RD, the Mayo Clinic, The College of Sports Medicine, The University of Indiana, only to list a few, the most important nutrient to be consumed after an intense workout or game is the macro-nutrient ‘Carbohydrates.’
The reason: Your muscles primary fuel source during exercise is ATP. This ATP comes from carbohydrates and is available when glucose is broken down. As muscle contractions take place, ATP helps the process. The most effective way to supply Carbohydrates is to store right next to your muscle fibers in the form. Our bodies do this naturally when carbohydrates are made into ‘Glycogen.’
To simplify this, Glycogen is a carbohydrate that is used during exercise. Glycogen is stored in your muscles (and liver), for immediate use when playing sports or training.
And because you use glycogen during exercise, the main nutrient you should care to replenishing is glycogen. This is your PRIMARY concern post exercise/training session or sporting event.
Think about it. Glycogen is a fuel source for muscles. If you use that fuel, then obviously refilling it should make everything work in order again. Especially when training, the replenishment of glycogen will allow you to work out harder and longer if training the next day.
And we know, working out harder provides you with greater results greater endurance, provides you with greater strength. Then when you are stronger and can last longer than the others on the field of competition, it makes it more likely you will be the winner of which ever sporting event. And to win is the goal, right?
So carbohydrates are important to fuel your muscles. But also important is the type of carbohydrates you consume after exercise. There are many different types, glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltodextrin, and others. What you need to know is fructose (a sugar from fruits) is not the best choice.
High glycemic foods are better than low glycemic foods. For example, “…consumption of carbohydrate with a high glycemic index results in higher muscle glycogen levels 24 hours after glycogen-depleting exercise as compared with the same amount of carbohydrates provided as foods with a low glycemic index.”[i] [ii]
This is the reason why chocolate milk is consider one of the best things you can drink post exercise, as discovered by the University of Indiana. They found it is a good amount of low and high glycemic carbohydrates and covers the spectrum.
Finally, another consideration is the timing carbohydrates and when should you take in these carbohydrates. To keep it simple, you should have this less than 30 min post exercise.
- Glycogen, which comes from carbohydrates, is the most important molecule for exercise.
- If working out or exercising, days in a row, or multiple times in a day, replenishing the glycogen is your primary concern post workout or exercise.
- You should consume a high glycemic food because this has the highest benefit for restoring your glycogen stores. This excludes Fructose which doesn’t seem beneficial.[iii]
- The post exercise drink should be consumed within 30min of exercising.
Then How Does Gatorade Recover (trademarked) Compare?
I’ve seen the commercials, and I know my blog doesn’t have the glitter and glam of those athletes sucking down the drink in one hand and a helmet in the other. It doesn’t have special effects, where sweat, post-secretion dripping down an arm, is sucked back up by the sweat glands. It definitely doesn’t have the cool Trip-Hop beats that get you bopping your head while thinking to yourself, ‘Yea man, I want that drink, Im’ma all-star too.’
I apologize for how boring this blog is. But I can promise you, this blog only has facts. And when you breakdown the nutrients that Gatorade Recover provides, compared to what you need as indicated by studies, you will find that this product is a complete worthless.
*Trip-Hop music screeches to a halt*
Sorry I had to stop the music but it’s true.
I use some Gatorade products when I am exercising for prolong periods of times, especially for long endurance. They make good products that can help an athlete go longer and harder and when used properly; it can be a good tool.
But this product is not one of those good products. And compared to chocolate milk it is very expensive. Dramatically more expensive!
Let’s look at the Nutrition Facts label that I got from their website:[iv]
Keep in mind there are two servings in the container. I assume a person would drink the whole container (16fl oz). Thus, you would consume 120kcals, 14grams of carbohydrates and 16grams of protein.
For the price of this product I would expect so much more! It doesn’t even come close to what you need in carbohydrates. It does not help you replenish glycogen stores; it does NOT help you recover.
A side-by-side comparison of chocolate milk and ‘Gatorade Recover’ shows the following:
|Gatorade Recover||Chocolate Milk 1%|
- This is 25 grams of low glycemic food from the milk and 24-30 grams of high glycemic food from chocolate. It is a perfect ratio of nutrients post exercise with carbohydrates and protein.
- Gator Recover does not have the nutrients necessary to help an athlete recover post exercise. For the price it is not worth the money.
In case you’re interested, below is more information on the studies:
What The Studies Say?
Jentjens R, Jeukendrup A. Determinants of post-exercise glycogen synthesis during short-term recovery. Sports Med.2003;33:117–144
- Timing of post-exercise carbohydrate intake affects glycogen synthesis over the short term. Consumption of carbohydrates within 30 minutes after exercise (1.0 to 1.5 g carbohydrate/kg at 2-hour intervals up to 6 hours is often recommended) results in higher glycogen levels post exercise than when ingestion is delayed for 2 hour
Blom PC, Hostmark AT, Vaage O, Kardel KR, Maehlum S. Effect of different post-exercise sugar diets on the rate of muscle glycogen synthesis. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1987;19:491–496
- The type of carbohydrate consumed also affects post-exercise glycogen synthesis. When comparing simple sugars, glucose and sucrose appear equally effective when consumed at a rate of 1.0 to 1.5 g/kg body weight for 2 hours; fructose alone is less effective. With regard to whole foods, consumption of carbohydrate with a high glycemic index results in higher muscle glycogen levels 24 hours after glycogen-depleting exercise as compared with the same amount of carbohydrates provided as foods with a low glycemic index
Journal of the American Dietetic AssociationVolume 109, Issue 3 , Pages 509-527, March 2009 Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance
- four studies show no significant benefit of additional protein intake and two studies show no significant effect of meal timing on muscle glycogen resynthesis during the recovery period. Studies focusing on carbohydrate consumption during recovery periods of 4 hours or more suggest improvements in athletic performance.
[i] Blom PC, Hostmark AT, Vaage O, Kardel KR, Maehlum S. Effect of different post-exercise sugar diets on the rate of muscle glycogen synthesis. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1987;19:491–496
[ii] Journal of the American Dietetic Association Volume 109, Issue 3 , Pages 509-527, March 2009 Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance
[iii] Blom PC, Hostmark AT, Vaage O, Kardel KR, Maehlum S. Effect of different post-exercise sugar diets on the rate of muscle glycogen synthesis. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1987;19:491–496