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What do you eat or drink for post-run recovery? Have you ever tried kefir? Read on to learn about my yummy new discovery…
Well, hello there, July.
You snuck up on me a little bit this year. But I’m sure glad you’re here…because July means that it’s marathon training season again. Happy dance!
It’s been almost five months since I ran the 26.2 with Donna. Five months since I stuck to a training schedule, ate a GU, or ran before dawn. I’m so excited to start my third year with the Jacksonville Galloway program – to see my friends, to have support (and company) during my long runs, and to have a race goal to strive toward.
My goal this year is to fine tune my training. I’d like to add some extra miles on to my training runs, including a 29-miler for my last long run. I’d like to improve my training nutrition (not just talk about it but actually do it this time!). And I’d like to maximize my performance with proper recovery – specifically, by making some changes to my post-run nutrition.
So what exactly is the proper “post-run nutrition?” Here’s what the scientists say:
Sports dietitians say protein helps speed muscle repair after hard workouts, leading to faster recovery. Protein repairs exercise-induced muscle damage, reduces the response from the stress hormone cortisol, and even helps speed glycogen replacement. [Dietitians recommend] between 10 to 20 grams of protein post-workout…and are careful to note that hydration is still king, followed closely by replenishing carbohydrates, with most studies suggesting a 3:1 or 4:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio. While most research suggests refueling within 30 minutes is optimal, many experts say sooner is even better. (source – runnersworld.com)
Here’s my confession – I don’t do any of that. I rely almost entirely on other people for my recovery nutrition. I cross my fingers that the nice guys from the local sports nutrition store will be at the finish line with recovery drinks. Or I hope that my sweet husband has left a protein smoothie in the fridge for me. Occasionally I remember to throw a chocolate milk drink box in my bag. But sometimes none of these things happens. So on my drive home, I drink Gatorade. I maybe eat a granola bar in the car or some graham crackers when I get home. Sometimes I eat nothing at all. (I know, I know. You don’t have to say it.)
The Right Combination
I’m not alone, right? Does anyone else out there have a recovery plan that could use some tweaking? First let’s break this down into specifics. This easy little formula will help you (and me) figure out the amount of carbohydrates and protein that you should be getting post-workout.
To use the 4:1 carbs to protein ratio:
- Your weight divided by 2 = suggested grams of carbs
- Suggested grams of carbs divided by 4 = suggested grams of protein
Here’s how that looks for me:
- 113/2 = (about) 57 grams of carbs
- 56.5/4 = (about) 14 grams of protein
Once you know how much carbs and protein you’ll need, the next step is picking a recovery nutrition plan that works for you. What appeals to you the most? Do you like protein bars, or are you more likely to benefit from a recovery beverage? (And, no, I’m not talking about the beer tent at the post-race party.) Do you like the “just-add-water” recovery mixes, or do you prefer the taste of something more natural?
Personally, I would much rather drink my recovery fuel. I usually have zero appetite after a long run, and the thought of eating anything (except maybe something very plain like a bagel or banana) turns my stomach. I find that a drink goes down much more easily. Plus it helps with rehydration – bonus!
Now, I’m definitely not knocking prepackaged recovery drinks. Lots of people swear by them – but they’re just not for me. I have a strong aversion toward anything with artificial sweeteners – even the natural sugar substitutes. And if I can’t stand the taste, I won’t drink it, no matter how much my body needs it. So I try to stick with natural choices like chocolate milk and my latest discovery, Lifeway Kefir Low Fat Cultured Milk Smoothies.
What Is Kefir?
So what exactly is kefir? I hadn’t heard of it until recently, but it’s actually been around for over 2000 years. It’s believed that the word kefir (pronounced kee-fer) comes from the Turkish word “keif,” which means “good feeling.”
Kefir is a fermented milk product and a cousin of yogurt – only it’s drinkable, and it has significantly more live and active cultures. Its taste is smooth, tangy, tart, and a little sweet. Sometimes it’s a little bubbly too – hence, the nickname, the “Champagne of Dairy.” And, like yogurt, it’s super good for you. It contains 12 live and active probiotic cultures that support the immune system and balance digestive health. And check out this other good stuff about Lifeway Kefir Smoothies:
- Naturally gluten-free
- 99% lactose-free
- Contains no artificial sweeteners
- Rich in calcium
- Only uses milk from cows that are grass-fed and GMO-free
And best of all, it tastes great! You know how picky I am, and I really dig this stuff. I picked up a 32 ounce low fat Raspberry Kefir Smoothie at my local Winn Dixie – I found it right in the dairy section next to the milk. My store had Raspberry and Strawberry-Banana in stock, but they come in quite a few other flavors, including Plain, Strawberry, and Blueberry. I tried Raspberry, and it was fantastic. I can’t wait to try some other flavors.
Lifeway Kefir Smoothies for Post-Run Recovery
Let’s talk kefir and running. As I mentioned above, my ideal post-run beverage will have 14 grams of protein and 57 grams of carbohydrates. One serving of Lifeway Low Fat Kefir (1 cup) contains 11 grams of protein and 20 grams of carbs. So about 1¼ cups (10 fluid ounces) of kefir is going to give me all of the protein and about half of the carbs that I’ll need for proper post-recovery nutrition. It’s a nice, light drink that will taste great, go down smoothly, and will help repair my damaged, torn muscle tissue. I’m really liking the sound of all of that.
In addition to muscle recovery, kefir has additional benefits for endurance athletes. The healthy bacteria (probiotics) found in kefir have been shown to reduce the number and length of colds and other infections suffered by long-distance runners. (source – mercola.com) Probiotics also improve digestion, which is critical for athletes. What’s more, probiotics can acutely reduce nausea, intestinal inflammation, bloating, and hypersensitivity to foods – some common complaints among athletes during and after training. (source – active.com)
So there you have it – my post-run recovery plan. No more graham crackers in bed, folks. This girl is going to bring 10 ounces of kefir in a cooler to every long run from here on out. (Yes, bringing it to every single run would be better, but let’s be realistic here and start with the long ones.) If I post it here, I’m more likely to actually do it, right?
Ready to join me and give kefir a try? Sign up here to receive coupons for Lifeway Products. And then be sure to check back and tell me what you think!