A nutritious blitz in a blender can be the perfect antidote for when you’ve crushed yourself in a workout, but while it might be one of the most efficient and popular ways for athletes to recover, what’s the best recovery shake for runners?
Don’t be fooled. Exercise does not make you a better runner.
It’s your body’s ability to adapt to the stimulus of exercise that allows you to come back faster and stronger.
This means proper recovery is critical and that equals rest, gentle exercise to get the blood moving to the muscles that need repair - and refueling.
Training hard but still not beating your PB? Perhaps you’re not refueling right
One of the most time-efficient, popular, and enjoyable ways to refuel is by knocking back a recovery shake.
There are many advantages. Shakes can be pre-prepared, they’re easy to consume on the go, and can include pretty much any ingredient, which means you’re guaranteed variety.
And if you’re really on it, there’s no reason why they can’t be tasty too. So what’s the best recovery shake for runners?
Is it all about protein?
Many nutrition brands heavily market high protein recovery products.
On the surface it makes sense. Protein’s the body’s building block, so it figures we should load up when our body breaks down through exercise.
Contrary to the marketing, research (such as this study) concludes that protein supplements do not result in measurable reductions in muscle damage nor do they enhance recovery.
The likelihood is we’re already already getting enough anyway. The recommended daily protein intake for adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight, meaning an 80kg athlete needs 64g.
Much of this will be accounted for in your regular diet - a chicken breast is roughly 30g, a hearty bowl of porridge 10g. Even a humble potato contains 2g.
And rather than being good for us, excessive protein - particularly when it comes from heavily processed manmade sources - is hard on the kidneys.
So while acknowledging that protein matters, it’s equally key that it comes from high-quality sources. Organic, grass-fed animals, or - if you’re not a meat eater - plant-based whole foods.
No need to go nuts on the protein
Now let’s turn our attention to pre-packaged recovery shake.
Convenient? Yes. Optimal? Not so much.
Shakes will often be marketed with a ‘unique micronutrient blend’ or ‘new and improved reformulation’.
Unfortunately, the actual ingredients can be trickier to find and when you do get there usually read a lot like this: Whey Protein Isolate (27%), Maltodextrin (25%)...
Let’s look a little closer.
Whey protein isolate is heavily processed milk with all the fat removed. It’s a by-product of dairy farming and cheese production.
The great majority of whey is from industrial dairy farming so likely comes from sick animals pumped to the gills on antibiotics.
Maltodextrin is a heavily-processed, man made, high-GI (Glycemic Index) sugar.
If you’re looking for something nutritious to put in your body after a high-intensity track session, this cocktail isn’t it.
A great recovery shake offers a world of nutritious experimentation
This is where the plug comes in. Our plug that is, because 33Fuel Pre and Post Workout Shakes have 33 powerful, natural ingredients - no whey, no maltodextrin, no junk period - and a sell-by date. Yes, they’re real food!
That’s the other giveaway with heavily processed recovery products. You can keep them on your shelves almost indefinitely. Real food goes off.
33Fuel Pre & Post Workout shakes are gluten-free and vegan-friendly, and pack powerful plant-based protein with good fats from hemp and flaxseed, natural alkalysers including barley grass and chlorella, and potent antioxidants including goji berries and incan berries.
Low-GI natural sugars provide stable energy and all-natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric and green coffee help bolster the immune system.
33Fuel’s Pre and Post Workout Shakes, part of your non-processed training regime
While you wait for your order to arrive, here are a few other fun DIY recovery shake recipes to get you powered up:
Sweeter DIY recovery shake recipes
- Kefir milk/yoghurt, banana, cashew nut butter, pinch of cinnamon
- Almond milk, oats, honey, ginger, mango, coconut flesh (or dessicated)
Less sweet DIY recovery shake recipes
Pre-cooked beetroot, hemp milk, frozen banana, frozen berries, chia seeds
Avocado, baby spinach, turmeric, coconut water, raw cashews, fresh mint
Shake up your recovery shake with bright veg such as beets
Is the protein window a load of cobblers?
Here’s a final bit of myth-busting. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t consume a recovery shake within an ‘optimal’ 20 minute window post-exercise, as is often recommended.
The evidence around this is sketchy at best. This study by Aragon and Schoenfeld suggests that flexibility around when we refuel is fine.
All that really matters is that when you do have that recovery shake, it’s a nutritious one.
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