Food & Fitness After 50: Recovery After Hard Exercise

iStock-Older couple runningMany folks over the age of 50 are incredibility active: pickleball, tennis, swimming, running, hiking, and cycling are all popular with the 50+ crowd. I am often asked about hydration and recovery strategies and sometimes I hear some crazy things. So, what do you really need to help your body recover after a long, hard work out or competition? First let’s talk about two things you don’t need.

One, a new fad called “dry fasting,” or in other words, starvation and dehydration. The idea of dry fasting (no food or water) for a set period (anywhere from 3 days to a couple of weeks) is just plain dumb for everyone, but especially for older, active adults. We’ve talked about the important of hydration in previous posts, so click here for more information on the importance of hydration for older, active people. Just say no when you come across the YouTube videos of dry fasting enthusiastic followers and stick to your tried and true fueling and hydration strategies.

Another thing you don’t need is expensive waters that claim to be “smart” by changing the acidity and alkalinity (pH) of your blood. Organs, like lungs and kidneys, tightly control our blood pH in the range of 7.35 to 7.45; if gets higher it is called respiratory or metabolic alkalosis and if it is lower it is respiratory or metabolic acidosis and both are life threatening. There is no need to try to acidify or alkalize your body because your lungs and kidneys won’t let you do it anyway. The only thing “smart” about these waters is the money they are making for their promoters.

blood ph

For real recovery and hydration, here is what we know:

  • Fluids help restore body water.
  • Carbohydrates replenish muscle carbohydrate stores (glycogen).
  • High quality protein provides key amino acids for repairing muscles.
  • Antioxidant-rich beverages like tart cherry or blueberry juice provide plant compounds that can reduce inflammation and help with muscle soreness after a hard workout.
  • Omega-3s (often called fish oils) are also anti-inflammatory and most Americans don’t get enough of these healthy fats in their diets.

ERSA Norwegian food scientist, Janne Sande Mathisen, has combined all these ingredients into a new recovery beverage called Enhanced Recovery Sports Drink. The beverage contains 20 grams of whey protein with 2 grams of leucine (an amino acid referred to as the anabolic trigger), and 1600 milligrams of omega-3s. It was tricky to find a form of omega-3s that worked in solution that didn’t taste fishy.

The carbohydrate source is from fruit juices (apple, pear, and black current) to give both rapidly absorbed carbs and polyphenol-rich fruits (those antioxidant healthy plant compounds).

I was sent some samples to try and I shared them with some very active friends. The overwhelming consensus is that it is a tasty drink, not too sweet, and serving size of just a little over 8-ounces is the right amount to drink after a workout without bloating, aftertaste, or too much volume. I think it tastes like kefir; others say it tastes like a yogurt smoothie.

I like the food forward approach of this recovery drink and think it might be a good solution for combining recovery elements in to one simple-to-drink beverage. For competitive athletes who may have to undergo drug tests, the product is certified by Informed Sport to contain no banned substances that could disqualify an athlete from competition.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of the product to try, but I was not asked to or compensated to write this post. I have no connection to the company.

For more tips on staying healthy while being active, check out Food & Fitness After 50, available on Amazon or other booksellers.

 

Joys of Pomegranates

Until this weekend I had only enjoyed pomegranates in a pomegranate martini. That changed when my sister brought me a bag full of pomegranates from our neighbor’s pomegranate tree. I didn’t even know that this fruit grew in Georgia! I dug out The Essential Eating Well Cookbook (350 recipes from that great magazine, EatingWell) to figure out what to do with, what the Food Lover’s Companion calls “nature’s most labor-intensive fruit.”

The fruits were ripe and laden with ruby red seeds and juice. It took a lot of work to get some juice (6 pomegranates are needed for 1 cup of juice) and I barely got a cup of juice, but did harvest hundreds of seeds (a testament to the part of the name “grenate” for many-seeded.)

Pomegranates are loaded in antioxidants–those helpful compounds that fight diseases like cancer and heart disease. The longer we live the more damage from oxidation can occur in the body (like rust on on old car) so eating foods rich in antioxidants is a smart move for those of us who have a few miles on our bodies. Antioxidant supplements have not proven to be as effective in fighting disease as researchers had hoped, but eating foods rich in antioxidants has many benefits. These foods tend to have the whole package for good health: low in calories, low in saturated fat, high in fiber, vitamins and mineral, and loaded with antioxidants. Pomegranates are also high in potassium, a mineral that can help lower blood pressure.

I made 2 dishes with my pomegranates–a chicken tagine (a Moroccan-inspired recipe from the Eating Well cookbook) and a dessert with apples and pomegranate seeds. The chicken dish used both pomegranate juice (which I had to supplement by using POM Wonderful juice) and seeds for crunch and a tart flavor burst. Both were yummy and I saw no empty plates from my dinner guests.

This special fruit is only available October through December, so try it for yourself and enjoy the taste and nutrition of pomegranates this fall.