Protein Powders and the seduction of marketing
Many young athletes have been enticed by targeted advertising of the very professional looking protein powders on the market and the promise of enhanced performance and recovery. But are these and other recovery supplements suitable for developing and growing athletes?
Triathlon Australia’s policy for developing athletes is NOT to take supplements
Last month I sat in on my eldest daughter’s session at the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) as part of a triathlon time trial day. There was a very informative session on recovery nutrition by the Sports Dietitian, but the topic of protein powders and supplements was specifically addressed by Triathlon Victoria’s Executive Director, Grant Cosgriff.
He highlighted that it is Triathlon Australia’s policy for developing athletes to not take protein powders, shakes and other supplements and that all necessary nutrition can be obtained by eating real foods and fluids. They were noted as being an unnecessary expense and many provided too much protein than young athletes needed. In addition, non use of protein powders and supplements would also minimise risks of contamination of prohibited performance enhancing drugs.
Key points outlined in the Triathlon Australia Supplement Policy include:
• The use of dietary supplements is NOT an essential part of a triathlete’s daily dietary intake or performance plan.
• The majority of dietary supplements have NO health or performance benefits and have potential health and inadvertent doping risks associated with their use.
• Dietary supplements are not controlled in the same rigorous way as prescription or over the counter medicines.
Whilst these policies obviously relate to triathletes, this appears to be a common theme amongst many sporting codes.
A good old fashioned chocolate milk does the trick!
One of the most common recovery snacks that I give my girls is a good old fashioned chocolate milk. This was a recommendation by the Sports Dietitian from Diving Australia when my girls were at elite training camp a few years ago and I have been using it ever since.
Chocolate milk is:
• A great balance of carbohydrates and protein, effective in promoting muscle recovery after endurance exercise.
• High in water content which is great for rehydration after training.
• Easy to transport and therefore ingested in the car after training to start the recovery process immediately (important for those athletes who have another training session within 24 hours).
• Quickly digested as a liquid versus solid food form to further speed up the recovery process.
• When purchasing, look out for low fat milk and low sugar content.
• When convenience and time are not an issue, homemade chocolate milk is preferred as you can control the ingredients and avoid any additives. All you need is low fat milk, cocoa powder and a little sugar to taste and voila!
This combo is great and easy but here is also a recipe for healthier alternative:
Choc Milk Recipe – a healthy alternative
• 1 ½ cups low fat milk
• 1 tablespoon raw organic cacao powder
• 1 ½ teaspoons of rice malt syrup
• 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Heat all ingredients on the stove slowly and stir to dissolve.
Homemade chocolate milk is so quick and easy to make and have in the fridge ready to go.
• You can make up a large jug and pour out and prepare as needed.
• For a hot version, simply heat again on the stove or even in the microwave.
• For hot chocs to go, pour into a preheated insulated flask to take in the car with you when picking up from training. Get that recovery process going immediately!
– Make sure you don’t overheat or it will be too hot to drink whilst travelling in the car.
– I find a straw makes it much easier to drink warmer liquids on the go too.
• For a cold version, simply add ice cubes to go or blend for a choc frappe. Pour and pack in an insulated bottle and place in a cold bag with an ice pack to keep cold.