On Recovery Drinks: a DIY recipe

by Evan Morrison. 21 May 2011.

Recovery drinks are expensive. My go-to “branded” recovery drink - Recoverite** - retails for $50/tub. That works out to $1.56 per serving (2 level scoops of powder, mixed in 10 oz water), which might not seem like a lot, but multiplied by 5 workouts/week and 52 weeks/year adds up to $405.

Chocolate milk, of course, is a perfectly acceptable alternative. And at $2.99 per half-gallon, the cost per 10-oz serving goes down to $0.47 ($122/year, a 70% savings). My favorite supermarket-bought recovery drink, though, is Silk Soy chocolate milk - at $3.99/half-gal, still only $0.62 per 10 oz).

Two downsides to chocolate milk: refrigeration and expiration (and therefore, more frequent shopping trips). Powder-based drinks such as Recoverite travel better and, in my opinion, taste better at room temperature.

But powder-based recovery drinks don’t have to break the bank - even ones with approximately the same ingredients as a branded recovery drink. The main thing, according to nutrition scientists, is a carbs-to-protein ratio of somewhere around 3:1 or 4:1. The carbs restore muscle glycogen, the protein repairs and builds muscle tissue, and the two act synergistically to help you recover. Some recovery drinks (including Recoverite) are also fortified with electrolytes and extra amino acids.

Turns out, most of these ingredients can be bought separately and combined in the same proportions as “branded” drinks - for substantial cost savings. The main ingredients in Recoverite are maltodextrin (carbs), whey protein, L-glutamine amino acid, and a full-spectrum electrolyte mix. After those, it’s just flavoring, sweeteners, and a few extra amino acids in very small quantities.

And guess what? electrolytes are all readily (and cheaply) available at Amazon.com. I found whey protein (Muscle Milk brand) for even cheaper ($28.99 / 6 pounds) at Costco.

And so it’s with that in mind that I present the Freshwater Swimmer Generic-but-still-Awesome Powdered Recovery Drink - nutritionally indistinguishable from Recoverite:

The recipe produces 6 servings - combine with 60 oz water in a half-gallon container, shake well, refrigerate, and voila! High-quality powdered recovery drink at $0.58 per serving.

How does it taste? Honestly, with no added flavoring - just the natural vanilla flavors included in the protein powder - it tastes even better than Recoverite.

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On 2011-05-22 09:50:23, Sully said:
It's a little more expensive but for $0.99 you can get individual servings of yahoo/nesquik/horizon chocolate milk. Even though many of them are sold in the refrigerated isle they say "Refrigerate after opening." So they are pretty good room temperature options. Do the 12 servings stay good for 12 days?

On 2011-05-22 10:49:49, Evan said:
I plow through the gallon in about a week, and spoilage hasn't been a problem. Just keep it refrigerated. And you can always halve the recipe.

On 2011-05-22 19:38:53, Katie said:
Nice! I use DIY chocolate milk--Nesquick plus skim milk. Hershey's isn't as good--it has high fructose corn syrup. My thermos keeps it cold all day (even at the peak of unholy AZ summers).

On 2011-05-23 09:41:59, Evan said:
thermos = good idea!

On 2011-05-23 12:01:32, Sully said:
Next up: Home made protein bars. I used to make some 5 years ago. Don't remember the details but they contained oats, chocolate whey, peanut butter, honey, egg and perhaps some more tidbits.

On 2011-06-01 17:13:10, mike said:

On 2011-06-25 14:10:33, David Reinisch said:
Evan, What would you recommend for carb replacement during the swim for shorter swims between 2.5 and 5 hours (cross currents) in 62-67 degree fresh water? And feed schedule? The swim water is drinkable. Thanks, David

On 2011-06-26 11:05:21, Evan said:
David, thanks for stopping by. I would recommend whatever tastes good to you and settles well in your stomach. There's some science to endurance nutrition, but there's a lot of personal preference as well. Try out a variety of products and see what you like best. Personally I think Hammer Perpetuem and 1st Endurance EFS are both great products for marathon swims, though the EFS has a ton of electrolytes that might be unnecessary in a saltwater swim. 2.5-5 hours is still in the "marathon" category, so I don't think my nutrition would be much different than a 5-10 hour swim. In fresh water you're not ingesting sodium so electrolyte replacement will be more important than in saltwater. In 62-67 degree water you'll need less fluids than in 80 degree water. In MIMS I drank 24oz per hour; in Tampa I drank 36oz per hour. I feed every 20 minutes but that's also up to personal preference. Some people do 15, some do 30, some do every hour.

On 2011-06-27 12:12:54, David said:
Thanks. And congratulations on the MIMS. Inspiring, indeed.

On 2013-02-27 17:58:45, Got Chocolate Milk? | 2 Weeks Notice Blog said:
[...] Queen that I am, I looked up workout recovery drinks and formulas. I came across this site here, http://blog.marathonswimmers.org/2011/05/on-recovery-drinks-diy-and-otherwise/, it caught my attention because I am a swimmer, and I know whoever wrote this must know what my [...]