The composition of Mike’s Mix Recovery Drink is the optimal blend of nutrients to facilitate every athlete’s recovery from strenuous exercise. However, like all aspects of nutrition, the amount of post-workout supplementation should be unique and customized for each individual. A universal serving size is not appropriate for a population who differ in size, gender, athletic activity, duration, as well as long-term fitness goals. Those seeking weight loss and toning have different nutritional considerations than those working to reduce their Ironman time. Unfortunately, only a limited space is available on the Mike’s Mix Recovery Drink label, therefore I present the following article for more specific serving size recommendations.
If you critically compare recovery drinks you may notice that quality products have similar compositions. However, recommended serving size for these same products varies considerably; from 90 to 900 calories per serving. This variance reflects the diversity of athletes purchasing recovery drinks. Low calorie drinks appeal to those counting calories (formulas are almost always calorically equivalent but serving size is adjusted to give the illusion of being low calorie), whereas bulk formulas appeal to young weight-lifters or football players attempting to pack on pounds. Although the macro-nutrient requirements to restore energy reserves and repair muscle tissue amongst athletes is universal, the optimal quantity of nutrients varies according to activity, duration of activity and personal goals. It is useful then to distinguish two broad categories of athletes when discussing serving size:
- Strength training / general fitness athletes who work out intensely where duration of workouts is typically one hour or less
- Endurance athletes whose workouts tend to be over an hour.
Strength Training / General Fitness / Bodybuilding
In general I would recommend a smaller serving size for shorter duration strength training workouts. A major consideration for strength training athletes is to minimize muscle protein catabolism (breakdown) while promoting muscle anabolism (building). Nutritional intervention can cause an elevated blood insulin level which both reduces muscle catabolism and stimulates muscle protein synthesis.¹
A pre-workout meal is critical to keep insulin levels elevated during a workout to reduce muscle catabolism. A small meal of whole foods with both carbohydrate and protein is sufficient to keep insulin levels elevated throughout a workout. The urgency for immediate post-workout nutrition is reduced for shorter workouts in the presence of a pre-workout meal because active digestion continues even after a workout has ended. A post-workout meal of both high-quality protein and carbohydrate (Mike’s Mix Recovery Drink) will provide amino acids as substrate for muscle synthesis and keep insulin levels elevated to help stimulate this process.
How much is needed though?
One study found that a small amount of whey protein (10 grams) and carbohydrate was sufficient to significantly stimulate muscle protein synthesis.² Therefore, I would suggest this equivalent of Mike’s Mix (10 grams of protein in a 50 grams serving) as the minimum for total calories in a post-workout meal. However, following consumption of Mike’s Mix I would strongly suggest a meal of whole food after 1 to 2 hours. This will keep insulin levels elevated and a steady flow of amino acids available for muscle synthesis.
One factor that is often overlooked when discussing nutrition for strength athletes is the role of glycogen (stored muscle and liver carbohydrate) on performance and the need to maximize its storage to get the most from training. Power output increases significantly when maintaining maximum glycogen storage³ and high glycogen levels are correlated with positive mental attitude and avoidance of over training.(4) Mike’s Mix is designed to promote rapid glycogen synthesis immediately following exercise. In short, the strength athlete that is mindful of consuming adequate carbohydrate to keep glycogen levels high will have higher quality, more powerful workouts.
Endurance / Ultra-endurance
Endurance and ulta-endurance athletes seek to recover energy stores quickly and be physically prepared for frequent workouts. Post-workout, these athletes’ glycogen supplies are reduced to almost nothing, their blood sugar is low and their stomachs are empty. Their most relevant consideration for recovery is replenishing lost glycogen stores and rehydration. For the past 30 years countless studies have examined the ideal administration, composition, and dosage involving post-workout nutrition to accomplish maximizing glycogen stores. Ivy and colleagues examined ideal dosage of high-glycemic carbohydrates in their classic study from 1988. What they discovered was that consuming 1.5 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram body weight immediately after exhaustive exercise (2 hours of cycling) and again 2 hours post-workout maximized glycogen restoration. (5) To put this in perspective, I am a 75 kilogram athlete and would require a 450 calorie serving immediately after exercise and another 450 calorie serving 2 hours later. However, numerous recent studies have found that the addition of protein to carbohydrate in post-workout nutrition further increases the rate of glycogen restoration and lowers the amount of carbohydrate needed to maximize resynthesis. (6) Several studies have now confirmed that a carbohydrate protein supplement is most effective when consumed at 1.2 to 1.5 grams x kg x h. (7) For a 75 kilogram athlete, this is between 360 and 450 calories per hour. The serving size recommendation on the Mike’s Mix label is a 382 calorie serving which would be optimal for a small to average sized athlete (most male and female endurance athletes).
Weight Loss / Toning
Another group seeking a quality recovery drink are those primarily concerned with weight loss or body toning. The P90X and similar workout plans have become increasingly popular and many followers of these programs have turned to Mike’s Mix to aid them in recovery from moderate duration (about an hour) intense workouts. Those seeking weight loss from exercise are often faced with a quandary regarding weight loss and sports nutrition. By nature, a recovery drink is filled with calories, which are something that most people seeking weight loss try to avoid (if your recovery drink claims to be low-calorie throw it away, it’s a gimmick). However, your body cannot recover from exercise without sufficient consumption of macro-nutrients (calories). On the flip side, moderate caloric reduction while maintaining good nutrition is a powerful and effective means to weight loss. It is important to remember that drastic caloric reduction can have adverse effects on long-term weight loss efforts. (8) Furthermore, the research available on recovery drinks has focused on enhancing post-exercise nutritional status which does not necessarily align itself with other nutritional considerations such as weight loss. Therefore, it is necessary to find a balance between consuming sufficient calories to facilitate recovery while reducing daily caloric intake with little research to go on. On the bright side, it is very difficult to store fat immediately after exercise. Your muscles are in a unique metabolic state following an intense workout and the macro-nutrients consumed (even in fairly large quantities) are rushed to muscle (and other organ) cells for immediate use. Pay more attention to your calories outside of your post-workout meal and don’t short change yourself on the most important meal for recovery.
One thing to keep in mind while dieting, or trying to put on muscle, is that total calories consumed at the end of the day will determine whether you are losing or gaining weight. Keep track of daily caloric intake and figure in enough quality food, including your post-workout nutrition, to maintain health and energy and you will be on your way towards success. In the chart below I have made specific recommendations based on workout type, weight and gender for weight loss, which is approximately 20% less than my recommendation for other athletes. This reduction in calories should not significantly reduce the effectiveness of the recovery drink, but still fit into a healthy diet with moderate calorie reduction. If you are having trouble recovering and always seem to be tired take in more calories daily.
Serving Size Chart
|Female||Male <170 lbs||Male >170 lbs|
|Weight Loss||2 level scoops (50 g) = 191 calories||2 level scoops (50 g) = 191 calories||2 level scoops (50 g) = 191 calories|
|Muscle Gain||3 level scoops (75 g) = 287 calories||3 large scoops (90 g) = 345 calories||3 overflowing scoops (100 g) = 382 cals|
|Recovery||2 large scoops (60 g) = 230 calories||3 level scoops (75 g) = 287 calories||3 large scoops (90 g) = 345 calories|
|Female||Male < 170 lbs||Male > 170 lbs|
|Weight Loss||2 large scoops (60 g) = 230 calories||2 large scoops (60 g) = 230 calories||2 large scoops (60 g) = 230 calories|
|Muscle Gain||3 large scoops (90 g) = 345 calories||3 overflowing scoops (100 g) = 382 cals||3 overflowing scoops (100 g) = 382 cals|
|Recovery||3 level scoops (75 g) = 287 calories||3 level scoops (75 g) = 287 calories||3 overflowing scoops (100 g) = 382 cals|
|Female||Male < 170 lbs||Male > 170 lbs|
|Weight Loss||3 large scoops (90 g) = 345 calories||3 overflowing scoops (100 g) = 382 cals||3 overflowing scoops (100 g) = 382 cals|
|Muscle Gain||3 overflowing scoops (100 g) = 382 cals||3 overflowing scoops (100 g) = 382 cals||3 overflowing scoops (100 g) = 382 cals|
|Recovery||3 overflowing scoops (100 g) = 382 cals||3 overflowing scoops (100 g) = 382 cals||3 overflowing scoops (100 g) = 382 cals|