What’s The Best Recovery Drink?

You know I’m not going to recommend Gatorade, but perhaps you’re thinking a more technically advanced drink, such as an expensive brand with that perfect 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein.

Or maybe you’re thinking chocolate milk, as per an article published by Runner’s World[1]?

Or better yet, going the natural route with a nice, fresh coconut water?


Forget the sweet, and go savory!


What about replacing those carbs just in the nick of time before that mysterious carbohydrate window[2] closes?

How can we possibly recover from that hard training run or ride if we don’t down the maltodextrin as soon as possible?


Change the fuel source.

Go from being heavily reliant on fueling your workouts, as well as your body on a day-to-day basis, for that matter, on fat, rather than carbohydrate.

Even those natural, ‘healthy’ carbs we might choose to eat before a workout, like a slice of juicy watermelon, or a dried date or two are high enough on the glycemic index scale[3] with rankings of 72 and 103, respectively, to spike your blood sugar, triggering insulin’s release from the pancreas.

And while you might feel great during the workout, as soon as you’re done, and you down that recovery powder you thought you needed, it won’t be long before you’re already scavenging around for something else to eat…more carbohydrates.

I made this mistake myself for years.

I thought I was doing everything correctly, because the carbs I was choosing seemed, at the time, better options than what I saw some of the friends I trained with eating. Some followed the advice we hear all too often: “just get the calories in; the source doesn’t matter” and they’d eat candy, cookies and even coca cola during and after training sessions.

I was choosing bananas, gluten free breads and certain energy bars, yet always wondering why I had no energy, why my stomach issues persisted even after cutting out the gluten and why I couldn’t seem to achieve the lean body I was training so hard for!

Put quite simply:

I didn’t have energy to train because all the grain-based foods I was eating proved indigestible to me. Swallowing the calories doesn’t always equate to being able to nourish your body. If you’re not absorbing the nutrients you’re taking in and on top of that, you’re taxing your body by asking it to digest foods while simultaneously asking it to run, bike, swim or do anything requiring taking blood flow away from the gut, you’re actually creating a recipe for disaster.


For years, I thought the solution was to find a more natural, easier to digest carb source. I followed a completely Paleo diet, yet I was still using man made gels!

It would be a long time before I finally faced my skepticism head on and had a real go at fasted training.

And I’m never going back on it!

Training on an empty stomach allows the body to begin to tap into its stored fat to use as fuel, but it will only do so in the absence of carbohydrate[4].

Your body will begin to use fat as its fuel, both during training as well as on off or recovery days.

Because it takes a period of time for your body to adapt, be patient, consistent and time it properly so you’re not ill prepared for that race next weekend.

Finally, circling back to the question at the beginning of this post: what’s my best recovery drink recommendation?


Better yet, bone broth.

Think about it: you’ve been sweating, you’ve become dehydrated, even more so when you’re burning fat instead of carbs, so what better way to nourish your body than an age old[5], easy to prepare, easy to digest and oh-so-good-for-the-gut beverage?

It’s not as odd as it might sound at first, and you’re not going to be the only one relying on this natural way to rebuild and rejuvenate.

According to NPR[6], the LA Lakers are downing it like there’s no tomorrow.

Rebecca Mohning, RD, who was interviewed in the article, says bone broth or soups made with it could help replace electrolytes after intense exercise and aid in post-workout recovery.

It’s a nice way to rehydrate the body, because of the liquid, and then replenish the sodium (electrolyte) that was lost through sweat during exercise,” she said. The amino acids may also provide the body with the building blocks it needs to rebuild muscle.

Wondering how Paleo is it to become fat adapted?

This very point is addressed on The Paleo Diet website[7]: “You don’t need to rely on an endless array of gels, powders, and pills to produce the best possible endurance race times. If you are engaging in endurance sports to lose weight this is critical, as your excess carbohydrate consumption is likely holding you back from achieving a better body and better health.”

Why not test it out for yourself?

Start slowly, keep hydrated and when you return from that first, short workout, tune into your body to determine when it’s time to eat. Then, bring on the greens, good fat and clean protein!

Don’t feel like making your own? Check out Kettle and Fire for pure goodness to go!

[1] “Is Chocolate Milk Really Best for Recovery?” Runner’s World. N.p., 30 Apr. 2013. Web. 30 Mar. 2016

[2] Aragon, Alan Albert, and Brad Jon Schoenfeld. “Nutrient Timing Revisited: Is There a Post-exercise Anabolic Window?” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. BioMed Central, n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2016

[3] “The Glycemic Index Table of Fruits Vegetables.” The Glycemic Index Table of Fruits Vegetables. Healthy Eating SF Gate, n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2016

[4] The art and science of low carbohydrate performance: a revolutionary program to extend your physical and mental performance envelope

Jeff Volek – Stephen D.Phinney – Beyond Obesity – 2012

[5] Moskin, Julia. “Bones, Broth, Bliss.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 06 Jan. 2015. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.


[7] “Why Should Endurance Athletes Burn Fat for Fuel?” The Paleo Diet. N.p., 17 May 2015. Web. 30 Mar. 2016