Loving the BITE: Coconut Caramel Sauce and Optimal Recovery
I’m not a fan of “one-best-way” thinking when it comes to sports nutrition. It’s rarely the case. Often, instead, there are many good ways. Some exceptional and successful athletes use paleo-style diets while others are vegans. Some eat snacks between meals religiously, while others seldom eat more than 3 squares a day. Some take ten pills (supplements) per day, while others seldom remember to take a multivitamin.
Here’s the thing: there’s many good ways.
Sure, we can try to construct studies and form conclusions on the one-best-way for an athlete to eat until we’re blue in the face. Often, research focuses on just one nutrient at a time because studies depend on identifying a single variable to establish cause and effect. However, our bodies are complicated. Biochemistry is complicated. And, although we can search for one-best-ways of eating, supplementing, and fueling, it usually leads us to inconclusive results and inconsistent recommendations. Focusing on one nutrient ignores the fact that nutrients work together, and our bodies metabolize and use many at once, often altering metabolism based on all the nutrients available at once.
Instead of trying to identify a magic bullet nutrient and one-best-way tactics, I recommend focusing on consistently eating real, whole foods and avoiding processed foods. Giving your body fuel while you are active, and lightening up later in the day when you are not. Replenishing our bodies after training to improve muscle and glycogen store recovery. And now the point of my rambling: we’ve got another Loving the Bite recipe for recovery this week.
It’s no secret that this sports nutritionist loves chocolate milk. Sometimes, the reward of chocolate milk after my ride powers me up the last climb and keeps me pedaling strong to the end. Yes, I made it, where’s my chocolate milk? Today, I’ve got another variation for you…and it’s right up there with chocolate. You can use it whether you consume dairy or avoid dairy it like the plague. Whether meat-eating or vegetarian. And, along with it, we’ll discuss five strategies for optimal recovery.
Recipe of the Week: Coconut Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup coconut milk (full fat/canned)
- 1 cup organic honey or agave
- 1 tsp real vanilla
- 1/8 tsp salt
Directions for Caramel Sauce:
Pour coconut milk into a jar. Add remaining ingredients, cover, and shake well to mix.
Directions for Caramel Sauce Milk Recovery:
Dairy: Mix 2 Tbsp Caramel Sauce, 12 oz. milk, and 5 grams l-glutamine. Drink within 30 minutes of finishing workout.
Non-Dairy: Mix 2 Tbsp Caramel Sauce, 12 oz. non-dairy milk, 1/2 scoop protein powder of choice (10 grams protein), 5 gm l-glutamine and drink within 30 minutes of finishing workout.
We’ve discussed chocolate milk, strawberry milk, and recovery. Now, coconut caramel sauce milk for recovery. While there’s many good ways to optimize and replenish glycogen stores, reduce soreness, and improve muscle repair, here’s 5 Tips for Optimal Recovery:
- Have your recovery snack ready before you leave for your workout. If it’s ready, you’ll eat or drink it when you’re supposed to (as soon after your workout as possible). If driving to a trailhead or group, find a way to take it with you…small cooler and ice pack? Especially when going for a long ride, it’s best to have something prepared ahead of time so you don’t have to make your recovery snack when you’d rather just shower and nap.
- Try liquids for recovery – and, no, it does not have to be a commercial product or marketing “recovery drink.” Although there are great recovery drinks out there, you can use real food/drinks if you’d like. I often recommend recovery smoothies and recovery milks. The advantage of liquid is that they leave the stomach quickly (nothing to liquefy) and are readily absorbed. This means nutrients in your blood, and to your muscles, quicker.
- Wait 20-30 minutes after your recovery snack to eat. If you eat solids at the same time as drinking your recovery drink, you can slow do the digestion in the stomach, delaying nutrient delivery.
- If you’ve trained long enough to have missed a meal, eat this, instead of a snack, 20-30 minutes after recovery. Let’s say you training from 10am-2 pm, thereby missing lunch. You likely only ate breakfast as pre-training fuel, and then during training fuel while training. The training fuel supports the activity during your workout…it doesn’t replace the meal you would have had on any day. So, add in lunch at 2:30 or 2:45 (recovery at 2:00 or 2:15), and then eat dinner at your normal time afterwards. It may seem like a lot of food, but it will help you get the nutrients your body needs for everyday living, and not leave it in a deficit when it needs nutrients the most.
- Add 5 grams l-glutamine to your recovery snack. Just do it. This nutrient has made as much difference in my clients’ recovery as any I’ve ever recommended. It reduces soreness, seems to speed up healing with injuries, and simply works to improve recovery. Clients generally notice a difference within just a couple weeks of using it. I’m convinced that most endurance athletes are deficient. Of course, this is assuming you’ve already dialed in the basics of recovery and are eating or drinking something with 30-60 grams carbs and 10-20 grams protein (these are big ranges and depend on the duration/intensity of your training and your personal goals).
Yes, there’s many good ways to improve recovery and replenish your body. I hope you enjoy the easy, no-cooking recipe today. Like traditional caramels, it uses saturated fats, milk, sugar, and salt, but with a coconut milk twist. Together, these ingredients make a syrup that tastes great and can be added to a protein source for a good recovery option. It happens to also make a great coffee creamer. This week, focus on recovery after hard rides. Then, get back up the next day and tear it up again.
Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.