For the Last Minute…

I know a while ago I promised more ideas for my vegetarian and vegan friends; I’ve been trying to include recipes and options that are friendly to both carnivores and herbivores alike.  The truth is, a lot of folks who spend time recommending such things, recommend a plant-based diet as the answer to reducing the collateral damage we’ve done to our bodies over years of eating the “Standard American Diet” (or, appropriately enough, the SAD).

My personal opinion is that it is all, indeed, very personal.  What works for me might not work for you.  What I find delicious and nourishing might make you feel like caca.  So, I try to cover the gamut; a smoothie here, a breakfast there…maybe an energy bar to keep it real.

Speaking of which, I found in my cyber-travels a great recipe that is both quick and vegan.  Not just quick to eat, but quick to make and simple to boot.  The whole thing takes about 15 minutes, and that’s including the freezer time.

Last-Minute Energy Bars

1 c. rolled oats
1 c. brown rice crisp cereal
1/4 to 1/2 c. protein powder
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. brown rice syrup
1/2 c. sunflower seed butter
2 t. vanilla extract
1/3 c. dark chocolate chips

–Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
–Mix the brown rice syrup and seed butter together in a medium bowl. Heat 45 seconds in the microwave and then add the vanilla.
–Add the wet mixture to the dry, and mix well. You might have to knead it.
–Using slightly wet fingers, press the mixture into a pan and roll out smooth. (You might want to line the pan with parchment paper.)
–Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave and spread in a thin layer over the top.
–Freeze for 10 minutes, then cut into bars and store.

A few notes: You should look for a really mild protein powder to use; some of the powders can be really chalky, and that will show up in the flavor if you aren’t careful. Try some of the rice protein powders; they seem to have a less powerful flavor than whey or soy.

You can also use other nut butters if you choose; just be sure they are somewhat drippy. If they are of a more solid consistency, you will have to use more syrup, which is fine, too.

Honey can be used in place of the brown rice syrup; I actually used this because I didn’t have any brown rice syrup on hand. You could try agave nectar or maple syrup, but they might not bind as well.

You can also sprinkle sesame seeds or chia seeds on top before freezing…your choice!



Eat, Poopsie!

But not just anything.  That is to say, when you’re done ripping around the track and burning calories, don’t just reach for a Snickers bar.  Studies show that ingesting even a small amount of protein right after finishing a workout (within 10-15 minutes) can deliver a whole host of benefits; even if you are planning on eating a larger, more substantial meal once you get home, you should try to nosh on something before you jump in the car.

What’s the big deal, you ask?  Well, test subjects who ate even 1-2 grams of leucine (think whey protein, which is generally a better source for post-workout purposes) showed bigger muscle gains and lost more fat than subjects who ate nothing at all.  Oddly enough, you can actually lose muscle mass if you eat nothing after your workouts, as opposed to taking in something small in the form of a supplement or tiny snack.

See, high-intensity exercise (jamming?  hel-LO…) is considered a form of stress, and stress releases cortisol into your bloodstream.  And cortisol, unfortunately, triggers muscle breakdown.  No bueno.  BUT, good news is that even small amounts of protein can trigger new protein synthesis and muscle recovery.  There are some other advantages as well.  Protein supplements after exercise can help accelerate the loss of visceral fat (the dangerous stuff), which, aside from making that tight-fitting jersey look like hell, accumulates around your organs and ups your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

The other cool side-effect of eating a small snack post-workout is that you will maintain a higher resting metabolic rate, which essentially means that you continue to burn off calories while you’re doing nothing. Or at least thinking about something else besides sweating your ass off. Sweet.

Eating a little bit right after exercise also tends to take the edge off your hunger, regulating your blood sugar a little and giving your body time to decide just how hungry it is…before you march into the nearest convenience store and drop $20 on junk food to satisfy whatever cravings you think you have.

So how can you take advantage of all this awesomeness? Well, think small-ish…between 100-150 calories, especially if you are planning on eating something more substantial in the next 30-45 minutes. So, a hard-boiled egg, a few handfuls of peanuts, cashews, etc, or maybe a little Greek yogurt (although you may not want to keep that in your skate bag); Oikos offers smaller-sized options than their regular yogurt servings, which could be a good choice. I personally like a few handfuls of trail mix and a couple sticks of part-skim mozzarella string cheese; I usually try to stay away from beef-jerky unless it is homemade, because of the large amounts of preservatives that are contained in store-bought jerky.

There is also a wide variety of protein recovery drinks out there, but I’m going to refrain from talking about those here, since I’d like to give them their own post.

So, it might take a little pre-planning…but having something on hand to grab out of your skate bag or backpack while you’re taking off your gear or discussing the finer points of your scrimmage might help to keep you out of the potato chip trough, and give you a little more energy for the next go-round.

Go get better, faster, stronger!