Iced Green Tea
When: Pre- or post-run, and on easy runs that last less than an hour.
Why: Green tea is a stellar source of catechins, antioxidants that fight heart disease and cancer. According to research, they can reduce muscle damage caused by exercise and speed up recovery. A recent study found that people who exercised and had the equivalent of five cups of green tea daily for three months lost more belly fat than those who only exercised. Plus, tea contains caffeine, which boosts speed and endurance.
Sipping Points: Steep tea bags for at least three minutes to release more catechins. If you buy bottled ones, choose brands with fewer than 6g of sugar per 100ml.
When: Pre- or post-runs, or on runs that last about an hour.
Why: 325ml of coconut water contains around 14g of sugar and 670ml of potassium – way more than sports drinks. “Potassium works closely with sodium to maintain water balance, and helps trigger muscles to contract and relax optimally,” says Suzanne Girard Eberle, RD. Coconut water has enough carbohydrates for an hour-long run, but not enough sodium for longer efforts.
Sipping Points: Coconut water is fat-free.
Why: This drink has the ideal amount of carbohydrates and protein needed for muscular recovery, says Joel Stager PhD, director of the department of kinesiology at Indiana University in the US. According to a study he led, drinking chocolate milk post-exercise speeds up recovery and increases the time it takes to reach exhaustion during a subsequent exercise session – better than sports drinks. A 2007 British study found that regular milk is better than water or a sports drink in restoring fluid levels following a bout of exercise in the heat. Plus, milk contains bone-strengthening vitamin D and calcium.
Sipping Points: Single-serving chocolate milk packets are excellent for portion control.
When: After a hard run.
Why: A British study found that runners who drank around 470ml of cherry juice in the days before, the day of, and two days after a marathon experienced less inflammation, oxidative stress and muscle damage. “Cherry juice is very useful for post- exercise recovery,” says Declan Connolly, PhD, professor of physical education and exercise science at the University of Vermont in the US. Cherries are higher in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties than many other types of fruits.
Sipping Points: If cherry juice is too sharp or acidic for you, try a sweeter blend with cherries and other 100 per cent fruit juices.