What Are Running Recovery Drinks and Do I Need Them?
You work hard and you train hard. You push your body to its limits during that 30-minute to one hour window of exercise you’ve allocated for yourself. When you’re done, you stand up, wipe away the sweat from your brow, and you can’t help but smile and feel energized after a job well done. Exercise has that effect on you. But what comes after the workout is complete?
This is where nutrition comes in. On the journey to becoming the best, strongest, healthiest, and fittest version of yourself, it is not just the workout that matters. It is the post-workout care and the nutrition that you feed your body that plays a factor in how well your muscles recover. It is the way that you fuel your body that counts too, and this is where a lot of people surprisingly overlook recovery drinks.
You’ve probably wondered what’s the deal with recovery drinks anyway. No, they’re not a gimmick created by sports companies to try and squeeze more of your hard-earned dollars out of you. Recovery drinks actually have a very important role to play in the overall health and fitness big picture.
Better Performance Begins With Better Nutrition
That’s right, the better you want your performance to become, the more attention you need to pay to your nutrition. When you’re done with the heavy lifting, it is time for your body to recover with protein and the right kind of carbs. If you have something to eat or drink within 20 minutes after your workout, your body is at its best to recover some of the energy that is lost.
However, there are times when we don’t have the luxury of preparing a healthy breakfast. There are times when we need to squeeze in a workout, get a quick shower in there, and quickly head out the door to begin the day. When this happens, you’re very likely to grab breakfast or a meal on the go, and a lot of the time, the food options you’re presented with when you’re in a rush are not the healthiest choices.
This is the reason why recovery drinks exist. They say that necessity breeds invention, and voila! Recovery drinks were born to give you a quick, nutritional recovery while ensuring you’re not fueling your body with the wrong kind of food.
Do I Really Need Recovery Drinks?
Runners need more carbs than protein when it comes to recovery. A protein-heavy recovery plan is mostly for weight lifters and bodybuilders who are trying to bulk up for a reason. If you’re a runner or someone who exercises regularly for health benefits, then you don’t need something quite as protein-heavy to aid in your recovery.
Recovery drinks benefit runners the best, especially long-distance or marathon runners (although you don’t need to be a marathon runner to enjoy the benefits of a running recovery drink). When you’re running, your muscles are getting worked and your energy levels deplete, especially if you’re running long distances.
The energy that you need to rebuild your glycogen stores, minerals, and vitamins all lie within the recovery drink. Recovery drinks even include just the right amount of protein to help you repair any muscles that might get damaged during your run. Some runners find it difficult to eat anything after they’ve had a long and hard run, so energy drinks really play a crucial role in helping to ensure that they don’t get too worn out.
When you’re tired and on your last leg at the end of your run, ready to throw in the towel and collapse, you must have access to some form of nutrition. Your body is screaming for it and it’s the only way to help you recover quickly. If you can’t stomach food right at that moment, then you need recovery drinks on hand. Otherwise, you might run the risk of getting dangerously dehydrated (especially if you’ve worked up quite a sweat, and without the ability to replenish your fluids, your body is going to be in trouble.
What About Sports Drinks? Are They the Same Thing?
This is another area where a lot of confusion happens. As it turns out, sports drinks are not the same thing as recovery drinks. A sports drink is for rehydration after, during, after, or even before a workout or intense training session. Unlike recovery drinks, sports drinks have been diluted with sodium, electrolytes, and sugar to purposely aid with the increased absorption of fluids in your system.
A recovery drink, as the name implies, is meant to help your body recover rather than replenish the loss of fluids. Recovery drinks are a much healthier option, especially if you choose to make your own recovery drinks at home. Smoothies are one example of a homemade recovery drink that is great because of the high content of milk or yoghurt involved. Add some fresh fruit, blend it all together, and you have a tasty smoothie on your hands, ready to take with you on the go. Some avid runners like to throw in a few spoons of soy or whey protein in there too, but it’s really up to you.
When Should I Consume These Recovery Drinks?
You don’t need to gulp down recovery drinks after every run that you do. Save it for your longer and harder runs on the days where you feel that you really want to give your body a little bit of a challenge. Recovery drinks can be consumed anytime you’ve had a hard workout, and this includes cross-training, interval training, tempo runs, or long runs.
Recovery drinks can be consumed within 15 to 20 minutes after your workout or while you are cooling down if you need it. This is when your body really wants to get its hands on some nutrition. This makes this window the perfect time to feed your body with what it needs and bring your energy levels back up so you can carry on with the rest of your day without feeling too drained.
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