I’m no nutritonist, but by now, my secret is out: I am a foodie. I come by it honestly from both sides of my family. My grandma Jean could talk about food all day long. And as any Italian knows, get-togethers and holidays are very food-centric. I don’t just love food though. I also love science. I love learning about food as fuel for our bodies. I love experimenting, myself as the subject (n=1), with different nutritional approaches. So what do you get when you blend a science nerd with a food geek? A person with constantly evolving nutritional philosophy, an easily convinced diet-phase companion and a lot of interesting experiences.
As a teenager, I first experimented dietary choices such as vegetarianism. Later, I tried product-centered diets (like Special K and Slimfast). All to answer the question: how will this make me feel? Well, I quickly learned that without meat, I easily get run-down/overtrained and without adequate calories (many product-centered diets are very calorically restrictive) I drop weight quickly and become very cranky. All very useful information in building my nutritional philosophy.
Fast forward a few years and my latest discoveries are that milk does not do my body good and protein is my recovery’s best friend. Since a nasty winter bout of plantar fasciitis left me with less miles and less appetite, I wanted to make sure that the food I consumed was nutritious in content. It seems counterintuitive even as I write it now, but when I ran 80+ miles per week, I often let some of the nutritionally defunct snack and post-run choices slide. I felt like I’d get in the nutritious food during my meals. So, thank you, plantar fasciitis, for making me more nutritionally aware.
Sports nutrition science agrees that protein is important for recovery post-workout. But we have all been hit over the head so many times with carbs, carbs, CARBS we often forget about protein. Kara Goucher sums up the effects of protein very well in a 2009 article with Running Times.
“My body doesn’t feel as beat up. I really notice it the day after a training session. I still feel tired, but I don’t have that huge tightness in my body anymore.”
Here are a few of the recommendation from the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
1. Post-exercise (within 30 minutes) consumption of carbohydrate with protein at a ratio of 3:1 to 4:1 (carbs: protein) may improve muscle recovery.
2. Post-exercise (immediately to 3 hours post) protein can “stimulate robust increases in muscle protein synthesis.” AKA, recovery.
*The position statement also addresses protein intake during endurance exercise, a dietary change I have not experimented with. See! Always learning!
Now, my husband and I laugh at the Myoplex commerical with Brady Quinn, but he makes the point pretty well. Recovery is about timing and protein.
Salty readers, after all this information and years of carbo-loading, are you feeling a bit unsure of how to get the protein you need? Have no fear, Rosemary is here. From time to time, starting today I’ll be bringing you a series of delicious, easy, post-run recipes to make sure your muscles recover and help you run your best!
The first recipe is for Protein Pancakes. From mixing bowl to stomach in under 20-minutes. Giving you 10 minutes of post-run stretching, hydrating or icing before getting into the kitchen!
1/2 scoop protein powder (I recommend Lifetime Life’s Basic in Unsweetened Vanilla)
1/4 cup pumpkin
1/2 TBSP cinnamon
1 TBSP flaxseed (optional)
2 TBSP milk or non-dairy milk
1/4 cup blueberries
2 TBSP maple syrup
Place a skillet on medium heat with Pam or a bit of oil. Mix ingredients from protein powder to milk until combined. Using a 1/4 or 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop batter onto hot skillet. It makes about 4 pancakes using the 1/4 or 1/3 size cup. Top each pancake with a few blueberries. Let pancakes cook for 2 to 3 minutes, flip pancakes and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Top with maple syrup and enjoy!
Nutritional info: 316 calories, 43 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams fat, 20 grams protein.
Add a banana (and, ahem, coffee) and you’ve reached a beautiful carb to protein ratio of 3.14 to 1. The syrup and fruit are great for the 30-minute post-run window because they are easily digested and absorbed into the bloodstrem.
I love these pancakes after a weekend long run. You know, when it is after breakfast but before lunch. Whip up these pancakes in less than 10 minutes (and eat them within 30 minutes) and get in a bit more protein at lunch for maximum recovery.
Do have trouble getting in protein after a run? What other recipes do you have for post-run snacks with a good carb:protein ratio? What other recipes would you like to see?