At the end of a long workout, many athletes make a Beeline for their recreational drink. Drinks such as protein shakes and electrolyte mixtures are milder in the stomach than solid foods and can be easily consumed on the go, whether you are stretching, driving or rinsing. Research also supports the habit and shows that drinks containing carbohydrates and electrolytes effectively replenish the body after exercise, while proteins provide an additional boost to recovery and can improve performance the next day.
However, Classic recreational drinks like chocolate milk, fruit Smoothies and protein blends are mostly suitable for warm-weather workouts. The last thing you want after a cold workout is a drink that will make you tremble. To solve this seasonal dilemma, we asked four professionals—a mix of top athletes and dietitians-to share their best workarounds. Warm up from the inside out with these winter recovery drink recipes.
Mocha Spice Recovery Drink
Canadian Olympic champion and dietitian KRIsta DuChene offers a great solution for busy athletes after training: a mix of just-Add-Water drinks. “You could do it if you walk in the door, keep it warm in a thermos or stop somewhere on the way home to get hot water to do it on the street,” DuChene says. It is also easy to resize and make for a group or adapt to your own taste preferences.
1 teaspoon of protein powder (vanilla or chocolate work better)
1 teaspoon chocolate milk powder (or a mixture of cocoa powder and sugar)
1 teaspoon skim milk powder (or whole milk powder for a creamier drink)
1 teaspoon of instant coffee or omit and use freshly ground coffee instead of water (below)
1 pinch of your favorite spice blend (DuChene uses one with ground cloves, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon)
1 cup boiling water
Mix the dry ingredients in a cup or thermos. Add a few teaspoons of boiling water to form a paste before pouring the rest of the water. Mix well. Top with warm milk, marshmallows or whipped cream with nuggets if desired. If you train with a group, prepare in advance and stay warm on the stove or in a pan.
Pumpkin Spice Smoothie
For her winter ride after fuel training, professional marathon runner Stephanie Rothstein Bruce, who is based in Flagstaff, Arizona, keeps the temperature of her drink cold, but adds festive flavors. The idea for this Pumpkin Spice Smoothie came to him from Lottie Bildirici, a nutrition coach and recipe designer, who helped Bruce feed himself before the 2020 Olympic Marathon events in the United States, where Bruce finished sixth. Feel free to swap in your protein powder and milk of choice.
2 to 3 tablespoons vanilla rice protein powder
1/2 to 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
Maple syrup to taste
8 to 10 ounces unsweetened almond milk
A touch of nutmeg, cinnamon and salt
3 to 5 ice cubes
Mix all the ingredients together and enjoy!
Golden Milk-Curcuma Latte
Catherine Ward, a registered nutritionist for Personalized Nutrition System InsideTracker, Centers her recovery latte around a star ingredient: turmeric. Golden milk is a traditional Indian drink, also called Haldi Doodh, which has long been considered to have healing properties. Turmeric is the only food source of curcumin, an anti-inflammatory compound, Ward says, and has been shown to help reduce oxidative Stress. After exercise, it can help reduce muscle damage, reduce pain and reduce inflammation. Adjust the sweetness of this recipe as you like—do not forget about black pepper that can improve your curcumin intake.
1/2 cup of choice milk
1 Teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 pinch of black pepper
1 teaspoon of sweetener of your choice (honey, syrup or Agave)
Place the ingredients in a small saucepan and whisk over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for ten minutes. Serve in cups and garnish with a pinch of cinnamon.
Three options for traveling
Maddie Alm, an elite athlete and registered nutritionist in Boulder, Colorado, shares her three favorite drinks, which can be prepared in advance or mixed on site. Each is warming, nourishing and restful.
Sippable bone broth
“Bone broth naturally contains collagen, protein and electrolytes to rebuild and rehydrate muscles,” says Alm. Use this recipe from the minimalist Baker website to make a batch at home if you have time, or try one of the brands recommended by Alm: Epic, OssoGood and the more budget-friendly Swanson. Drink hot with steam.
Recovery hot chocolate
Meet your post-workout protein needs with the Alms hot chocolate recipe. Simply add a ball of chocolate protein powder (she likes Skratch Labs ‘ chocolate Recovery Drink Mix) to eight ounces of heated milk, mix well and sip.
Turn this Winter Classic into a refreshing drink by warming up your favorite version of cider—homemade, pre—blended or powdered-and then incorporating one or two spoons of collagen peptides (try them from essential or Vital Proteins). The carbohydrates in apple cider will advance your recovery, while the added collagen can also help your joint health.