March is Nutrition Month! Join us as we explore popular food and nutrition myths. Please enjoy our ongoing series throughout the month.
"Man, I hope my mom brings the oranges" my teammate says on the bench leaning over, staring at his skates. We were 14 years old and in the final game of a hockey tournament. Five games in two days and we were close to being gassed. The second period ends, we're up a goal but the other team was coming on hard. In the dressing room our bodies rubbery and feeling the whole tournament in our legs, we get the oranges. We all breathe a sigh of relief.
We feel like they have special powers. Our coach tells us to dive in. "And drink plenty of water, we're back out in 15!" We hit the ice and felt refreshed. The game was ours, and we knew it.
During the regular season league play, we would have days off between games and all we needed was water on the bench. On tough tournament weekends, when we played a pile of games in a row, we would get fruit between periods, dutifully washed and cut up by one of the parents and sometimes chocolate milk after games. At the time, we didn't know how or why, but it always seemed to give us the energy to recover. Hard to believe we were able to do this without the abundance of specialized ‘sport' or ‘recovery' beverages we see today. Let me be clear, I am not speaking about "energy drinks" (that's a whole different can of worms – and, they don't contribute to recovery after activity the way some suspect). So how was it we made it on water for regular games but brought in the ringers - a few pieces of fruit and after game chocolate milk - on tough tournament weekends?
It's not rocket science but a big part of it was simply healthy eating in general, carrying us through practices, training and day to day life. For the elite athlete, there is a very real need for personalized nutrition including food and beverages aimed at recovery. However, if you are not doing high endurance activities for more than 60 minutes, stick to your regular healthy eating routine and water for recovery. The colourful flavoured "recovery" beverages may not be helping you recover at all. In fact, the added sugar found in those beverages may be adding more calories than what you need each day, without the benefit of other nutrients and working against you instead of for you.
We were lucky to have our fruit and water in that tournament. It was our recovery beverage.
How do you refuel?
HealthLinkBC, Dietitian Services Sport Hydration
Dietitians of Canada's Fuelling Fitness – Nutrition Myth's Busted and Nutrition Myth #8 - Drinking energy drinks is the best way to get energized.
Contact a registered dietitian at Dietitian Services, HealthLink BC, for more info on nutrition for your workout.