It’s been 10 days since my last post. I’ve been caught up in a whirlwind of swim practices and meets (kids) as well as my own increase in training now that my knee is finally better (hooray!). I thought that training for an Olympic distance tri (I’m competing at USAT Age Group Nationals in Burlington, VT in August) would be a piece of cake compared to the Half Ironman training I was doing last summer, but apparently not. Friday I ran 5 miles while the kids were at swim practice, then biked 32 in 1 hr 55. And, in the afternoons, when I usually find time to blog, I’ve been napping!
The good thing about increasing my training was that I had lots of opportunity to try out some Premier Protein samples I received in the mail. I usually make a protein smoothie with some Vega Sport, almond/coconut milk, fresh and frozen fruit right after a workout, but I do like to have protein shakes and bars for recovery when I’m working out away from home. I like the portable stuff because I usually eat or drink it while driving.
The package looked so inviting:
And what was inside looked even better:
But everything was HOT from sitting on the doorstep in the heat and the bars felt very squishy, so I threw them in the fridge for a bit. That may be why, when I went to eat the yogurt peanut crunch bar, it looked like this:
Still, it tasted really good. It was dense and very filling, none of that “still hungry” feeling after eating one of these. Here’s a view of the inside BEFORE I ate it, since pictures of half-eaten food really gross me out for some reason:
The next day my husband tried the vanilla shake. I saw him drinking it and told him I needed his input if he was gonna sample the products! He said he really liked it. I tasted it and wasn’t a fan; way too sweet for me, even though it only has 1 gram of sugar. So if you have a sweet tooth, this is the protein drink for you. Note that these, just like other protein shakes , should be consumed when cold; even at room temp they’re just nasty.
The chocolate shake was much more palatable although I found it had a slight aftertaste and to be honest I’m a chocolate milk lover and prefer that over any of these specialty protein shakes. But if you’re lactose intolerant I guess Nesquik just isn’t gonna work for you.
The other two bars were double chocolate crunch and chocolate peanut butter. What’s great about all these bars is that they have no trans fats, hydrogenated oils, or high fructose corn syrup.
While I like peanuts I don’t like peanut butter (weird, I know…) so I had the husband try the peanut butter bar. Actually, I didn’t even need to tell him… both of them disappeared right away. He said they tasted great. The chocolate was good but the yogurt peanut definitely was the winner for me.
No matter how much I like a product I will find something to comment on that I don’t like so much, even if it’s just the packaging, because in my experience I find it hard to believe reviews that are 100% glowing. I realize that sometimes a product may be absolutely wonderful and that most reviews are honest, but when you’ve been sent something to review for free I think you really have to show that your review isn’t affected by the desire to please.
The issue I have is partly my own fault. I made the assumption that Premier Protein was a recovery product. On their web site they indicate that the shake is a “meal replacement or snack,” but I think a lot of athletes will look at the shake and bar as post-exercise fuel, especially as they’ve been featured in Triathlete magazine.
Both the shake and bar have 30g protein, which is really more than your average endurance athlete (note that I said average because we all know Michael Phelps eats 2 dozen eggs after a workout but he is most definitely not average, possibly not even human…) needs post-workout. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming more than 20g of protein after exercise resulted in “no additional increase in muscle protein synthesis, showing that there is a limit as to how much protein your body can use to build new muscle” and recommended no more than 15 – 20g protein. What’s more, excess protein slows rehydration and glycogen replenishment.
Another reason why these products don’t work well for recovery are that they’re low in carbs compared to the amount of protein. The shake has 5g carbs and the bars have between 23 and 26g carbs. Recommendations vary, but in the first 30 minutes after exercising for an hour or more you generally should consume around a 3:1 carb:protein ratio. (The number of carbs you should consume is dependent on your body weight, so the ratio will vary.)
Why do we need carbs after exercise? Because carbohydrate helps restore muscle glycogen. Combining protein with carbohydrate results in more stored glycogen, while the protein also provides the amino acids necessary to rebuild muscle tissue that is damaged during intense, prolonged exercise.
A funny thing happened while I was researching the other products I use. I noticed that, for instance, the protein powder I use has very few carbs, although I always put that in a shake with lots of fruit. I also noticed that Muscle Milk has very few carbs, so if you like that after a workout you’d be wise to eat some fruit along with it.
Overall I think Premier Protein is a high quality product that meets certain individuals’ high protein needs. I noticed that these products are featured in a lot of body-building magazines, as well as an article for weight-loss surgery patients who must consume a lot of protein. But I don’t think I have a need for 30 grams of protein after any workout that I do. It’s been an education to say the least. I’ve learned that I need to read labels more closely and not make assumptions that the products I’m consuming have the ingredients my body needs.
What do you eat/drink after a workout?
Do you pay attention to carb:protein intake after exercise?