It’s time again to talk about food! Recently I have seen and heard some interesting things that were either pure genius or absolute garbage, but what really caught my attention is that they were things that I know many of you would probably ask about. Today I’m going to tell you about those things but we actually are going to be focusing on post-game recovery.
You might have heard the term ‘counting calories’ it’s usually associated with people on weight-loss programs. When I was at the grocery store this week I saw a bright little sign highlighting a new line of healthy snacks from a familiar brand and this got me thinking about my last nutrition article when I spoke about calories and daily recommended values. I picked up a box of Fiber One Cinnamon Coffee Snack bars. On the front of the box in big Blue writing it said “90 Calories”…. Ninety calories, that sounds great, right? There are simple ways to work out your basal metabolic rate online that give you a rough estimation of how many calories you need each day; I eat around 3300 calories every day to maintain my body weight – that is the equivalent of 37 of those snack bars. Hands up if you think that’s a good idea? It gets worse though, I looked further into the nutritional information, 18g of carbohydrates / 8 grams of sugar per bar… 8 grams of sugar is approximately 2 teaspoons. 37 bars would equal 296 grams, or 74 teaspoons of sugar! The moral of the story is; you have to know where the calories come from!
The second point of interest relates to ‘Superfoods’. You may have heard of them, certain foods that contain an unusual amount nutrients especially related to the low amount of calories. These foods are said to have various benefits ranging from weight loss to reducing the risk of diseases or cancers. Whether you believe that or not is up to you, but what is worth looking into is the perks of including some of these ‘superfoods’ as a part of your post-game recovery. They are often at the very least, high in antioxidants, vitamins or other nutrients. For example, dark leafy greens contain plenty of calcium, protein and fiber; these things are a great addition to the high carb meal you eat within the hour directly following exercise.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about post-game recovery. During the team talk after the first NHL playoff game between Pittsburgh and New York, Penguins coach Mike Johnston told the team to “Get your nutrition and hydration right away”. It’s safe to assume this is one of his most frequently used sentences. Recovery is (in my mind at least) the most critical phase of exercise and I know that many pro coaches feel the same way. Even pro athletes have their recovery routine, from an ice-bath to a light workout the next morning there are numerous techniques that are adopted by sportsmen (and women) around the world.
Just the other week our very own Coach Bill Altieri sent me a link to an article published by Cornell University. It basically showed the results of their research into chocolate milk as the gold standard of recovery nutrition. Before I even opened the link, the title got me thinking “Chocolate milk… high protein and calcium, some sugar and a little fat… seems viable” When I read the article I noticed that it actually went a little deeper into the theory and that the researchers were adding more (natural and safe) ingredients to the milk. I will include the link below so you can check it out too. It’s not just Cornell that have jumped on the chocolate milk band wagon, the sports nutrition research center at Gatorade recommend it as a post-exercise supplement and so do many other fitness magazines. I can’t tell you exactly when this new craze started or who the first to see the opportunity was; but I can tell you why we have started looking for better hydration options, and the answer is quite simple: water only replaces sweat loss.
The rise (and success) of sports drinks over the last 20 years has been because of that same answer. We know that during exercise our body loses water and nutrients and burns fuel, and we have to replace them plus more in order for our muscles to heal and our recovery to be effective.
Here are just a few ideas for things to consume within 30 minutes of practice / a game:
– Chocolate milk
– Peanut butter bagel
– Grilled chicken salad
– Energy bar
– Tuna sandwich
As always, I hope you found this article interesting. Next week we will be talking about overtraining. Stay tuned!