Recovery Drinks (hint: not beer!)

by barbaragarn

Part 1 dealt with dehydration and how it affects performance; Part 2 described what we need in a sports drink on the bench. But what about after the game?

Recovery Drinks
Post-exercise carbs and protein speed recovery, and significant amounts of fluid are still needed after completing exercise– 20 to 24 fluid ounces for every pound lost. (13) I’ve concluded that it doesn’t hurt to have protein in my “refueling” solution (on the bench), but since post-exercise protein and carb replacement are so important, a “recovery” drink has its place in the exercise regimen, too.

So-called “recovery drinks” with both protein and carbs “appear to be more efficient at increasing both muscle glycogen (Zawadzki KM, et al. 1992) and muscle protein (Miller SL, et al. 2003) after strenuous exercise. … Several studies show that exercise performance is better in athletes who consume carb+protein beverages compared to athletes who received the carbohydrate-only type (Ivy JL, et al. 2003) (Saunders MJ, et al. 2004).” (11)

Post-exercise energy intake from a very useful sports medicine article (13):
Consuming 100 to 200 grams of carbs within two hours of exercise is essential to building adequate glycogen stores for continued training. Waiting longer than two hours to eat results in 50 percent less glycogen stored in the muscle.
Carbohydrate consumption stimulates insulin production, which aids the production of muscle glycogen. However, the effect of carbohydrate on glycogen storage reaches a plateau.
Research shows that combining protein with carbohydrate in the two hours after exercise nearly doubles the insulin response, which results in more stored glycogen.
The optimal carbohydrate to protein ratio for this effect is 4:1 (four grams of carbohydrate for every one gram of protein). Eating more protein than that, however, has a negative impact because it slows rehydration and glycogen replenishment.rnrnSo get a recovery drink for the locker room, and make sure it has both carbs and protein.

What should you use?
Fluid: 20 to 24 ounces for every pound lost
Carbs: 100 to 200 gramsrnProtein: 25 to 50 grams

I’ve heard that mini tetra paks of chocolate milk are useful, though I haven’t tried this. To me, milk right after a game seems too… gunky. While beer IS carbs, it’s empty carbs and won’t help your body do the rebuilding it needs. Enjoy your brew, but make sure you drink–or eat–something to help your body recover, too. You’ll be in better shape and a better hockey player for it.

While researching, I ran across a different point of view. Understandably, Gatorade has an interest in proving everyone is really dehydrated. This article questions that affirmation.

However, while this article raises some interesting objections, its point is contrary to the vast array of other articles and positions of non-biased sports and trainers associations.

Here’s the counterpoint (14):
The Gatorade Sports Science Institute in Barrington, Illinois published a study showing that 46 percent of recreational exercisers are dehydrated (Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, June 2006). However with good reason, the study does not say that they are harmed.
There is no data anywhere to show that this mild dehydration affects health or athletic performance. Another study from the University of Connecticut shows that a person must lose a tremendous amount of fluid before it affects his performance (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, October 2006).
Recent studies show that fit humans can tolerate significant fluid loss before their performance suffers, and that most cases of muscle cramps are not caused by dehydration or salt loss. They are caused by muscle damage itself and can be controlled by stopping exercise and stretching the cramped muscle.

Interesting, but there’s enough evidence from what I’ve already researched to convince me that proper hydration is often neglected, and that getting proper hydration is pretty important.

Key Points
We’re probably more dehydrated than we think, and this undoubtably affects performance. Combat this with adequate hydration during the day before a game and with a proper energy drink on the bench. It might even assist mental clarity on the ice:
“The results of a recent study, well-designed to mimic the physiological demands of multi-sprint sports such as football, tennis and hockey, suggest that carbohydrate supplementation benefits both physical and mental performance tasks. In other words, carbohydrate not only delays fatigue but also helps maintain mental alertness and judgement.” (4) Maybe this will help me stop passing to the other team???

A proper energy drink should have sodium (110 to 220 mg/8oz serving) and carbs (about 45 to 150 mg total over 90 minute skate).rnrnAFTER the session, continue fluids with carbs, now with SOME protein. Remember, too much protein right after a game will actually slow your body’s recovery.

Researching this subject really made me aware I need to change my habits. I know I’m going to make some adjustments, and while they may not help me on the ice, I’m sure I’ll be kinder to my body.

Good luck, and remember to STAY HYDRATED!

1. A study from Canada’s comically named “University of Guelph” that includes basic info about sports dehydration (though not how to combat it), but IS specific to hockey.

2. Short, general article but hockey-specific.

3. JS Giguere’s sweat test on Gatorade site

4. British article with good technical information about carbohydrates, sodium, electrolytes–and recommendations for those components in fluid replacement beverages.

5. In-depth article about tennis in general, but extremely useful hydration info for any sport.

6. Basic article about proper sports hydration

7. “Nutrition and Hydration for Performance” by a sports drink company, complete with “pee chart.”

8. Layperson’s guide to chemical nature of sports drinks

9. Seven page position statement of the National Trainers’ Association on fluid replacement for athletes, published in the Journal of Athletic Training

10. American College of Sports Medicine position stand on exercise and fluid replacement (brief)

11. Review of sports drinks

12. Fluids and Electrolytes During Exercise

13. Post-exercise caloric intake, including carbs and protein

14. Counterpoint: we’re not THAT dehydrated, and it doesn’t affect us THAT much