I know the statistics– I have all the data. I even own a college-level textbook on the the specific nutritional requirements of endurance athletes and how our bodies differ from say, a weightlifter or some Gold’s Gym cardio bunny. Heck, anyone who’s read Runner’s World once in the last three years knows that one of the most important elements of your training is your nutritional intake. Your body only has a 30-45 minute supply of glucose (a small sugar that is easy to use for your body) in your blood; after that, it begins to break down the glycogen stores (bigger sugars that must be broken down into glucose) in your muscles. A run that lasts an hour or more is can be a punishment or a present to your body, depending on how you treat yourself after your run.
While we can argue about what protein-to-carbohydrates ratio is necessary after a run depending on whether you’re a traditionalist (4-to-1 carb to protein), a Paleo (All Hail Protein, Die Commie Carbs), or whatever floats your nutritional boat, it’s a scientific fact that consumption of carbs with protein after a workout optimizes muscle recovery and growth, maximizing immune function while restoring energy and rebuilding your muscles. Even more critically, your body will replenish its glycogen (fuel) stores better and more efficiently if you eat your post-run snack or meal within your carb window– i.e., 30 minutes or less after you finish working out.
Now that I’ve given myself a pat on the back for knowing a minute amount of nutritional trivia, here’s the reality. After a long run, one of two things will happen: either I’ll end up in the bathtub with a bowl of Top Ramen, or I’ll get busy with the rest of my day and forget to prepare anything to eat at all. An hour or two later when I’m feeling faint from hunger and wondering what’s gone wrong with my life, I’ll suddenly realize I still haven’t eaten anything or worse, I’ve only just joined one of those godforsaken lines outside of a popular Portland brunch spot.
Enter Core Power high-protein recovery shakes. Made from milk and honey, each lactose-free, gluten-free serving of Core Power provides 26 grams of fresh milk protein (21 g casein /5 g whey). There are two versions– light (150 calories) and regular (240 calories, still better than my Top Ramen)– and five flavors (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, banana, and honey). All flavors have only ten natural ingredients.
Here are the highlights of my thoughts:
- As a person who goes back and forth between the belief that I deserve ALL the calories in the world for my hard work and then two weeks later thinks it’s time to go clean/raw/lo-carb/lo-cal, I was very pleased with the two different calorie profiles of the drinks. The light versions still pack 20 grams of the same high quality fresh milk proteins even though they’re almost 100 calories skinnier. The Light Chocolate flavor tasted like dark chocolate– not too sweet, no artificial-tasting flavors, and very satisfying.
- I hate cow’s milk. Although I eat cultured versions of animal milk on a regular basis (e.g., yogurt, cheese, kefir, etc.), I haven’t had straight up cow’s milk since the ’90s. On any given day, there are probably three half-gallon jugs of almond milk in my tiny, euro-sized fridge. When Run Oregon asked me to review this product, I had two big concerns: A) since I hate the taste of milk, would I hate this product? and B) in my experience, pre-mixed protein drinks are chalky, gross, and taste nothing like food. Old school protein drinks are for the 3% body fat kind of people who are strong enough to deny themselves every pleasure in life, and I am emphatically not one of those people. I tried the full-calorie Vanilla Core Power first, and was delighted at the taste. It was the perfect compromise between a snack and a dessert, with none of the guilt and all the protein. The gross grocery store milk aftertaste that I hate so much simply wasn’t there– this was just good, extremely fresh, clean milk.
- In light of the good, clean taste, high protein content, and two calorie profiles that I can pick and choose from depending on where I’m at in my training, the convenience factor is through the roof. Having three flavors waiting for me at home, ready and cold immediately following a workout was a huge relief. Since I’m coming back from a bit of a training layoff right now (kidney infections, new Big Law gig, wedding planning, etc.), it was really reassuring to know that I was treating my body well my first week back on the streets.
If you order Core Power through Amazon Subscribe & Save, you can get a pack of twelve 11.5-ounce bottles for a few pennies over $34– so $2.83 each, about as much as you spend on that carb-laden, protein-free Gatorade at the Plaid Pantry after your Saturday long run with Coach Jim’s Elite Runners in Training.
SUPPLEMENTAL TASTE TEST FROM ANNE’S FIANCE: “I would drink the sh*t out of those.”
BONUS: Amazon is offering a $5.00 off coupon right now. Click here and scroll down to “Special Offers and Product Promotions” to clip the coupon for your future order.