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Skip the Gatorade on a hot summer day and blend a cup of watermelon with a cup of ice for a sweet cold drink. Watermelon provides mostly carbs and outside of Vitamin A and C, it doesn’t offer a rich benefit of nutrients. One might decide that watermelon isn’t worth it because of this. Consuming watermelon will create an insulin response because of the fructose and glucose present in the carbs. Watermelon finds itself on the bottom of our list of eating foods for nutrients but used at the right time it does have its place.
Recently I’ve been reading about nutrient timing in conjunction with exercise. Initially I wrote this idea off because I saw so many people in the gym drinking energy drinks or refined sugar loaded drink mixes while completing their workouts. I still strongly question how effective such mixes are when they separate certain vitamins and minerals and even amino acids from the food in which they are found. But recently I read
The science described in Nutrient Timing seems like it might work with an intentional plant based diet. Watermelon couples well with exercise. The carbohydrates are quick acting which creates an insulin response to open the gateway for cells to use proteins. So how can we create our own drinks or mini meals to activate nutrient timing without the highly processed and isolated nutrients of packaged workout drinks? A watermelon based smoothie creates many options. A study from Spain claims that watermelon consumption decreases muscle soreness in relation to the amino acid L-citrulline. Notice early in the article that the study showed people who consumed the whole watermelon opposed to just water infused with watermelon recovered better.
I ran across this study while looking for at home do it yourself work out drinks. For a simple recovery drink try this from runeatrepeat: 1 cup cubed watermelon and 1 cup coconut water or milk. Watermelon provides important vitamin C, which Nutrient Timing: The Future of Sports Nutrition says is important to help control radicals that are present in the body after exercise. I wanted a little more nutrients in my drink so I adjusted the watermelon workout smoothie to the following:
2 cups cubed watermelon
1 banana – more vitamin C to fit radicals with fast acting carbs.
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups water
1 cup of Spinach – adds more vitamin C and a decent amount of protein per calories.
1 tbsp peanut butter – adds some vitamin E and a little protein.
The above recipe created 48 oz of drink which I made into one 24 oz drink for a day I completed a heavy core weight work out and two 12 oz drinks for a day with a bike ride and lower intensity kettle bell weight workout. After day 2, I am still a bit sore but I recently took 2 weeks off of weight training to give a sore foot a break. Whether I’m less sore or not, I feel good about the nutrients I put in my body around exercise.
Unfortunately, watermelon is a seasonal fruit so I will experiment with workout drinks by substituting a few things.
Fruit base – oranges, pineapple, mango, peaches, lemon, lime
Protein options – hemp powder, almond butter (increase of vitamin E), sunflower butter (increase of Vitamin E), cashew butter
Leafy base – Kale, Swiss Chard (tons of vitamin C with a little vitamin E)
For a workout drink I’m looking for a smoothie that ends up with about 30 grams of carbs, 5 grams of protein along with as much vitamin C and E as possible. Watermelon is a great way to start and it adds enough sweet taste to the drink to keep it edible without adding sweetener. Grab some water melon before or after exercise and relish the sweet taste as it should help your body recover. As you experiment with do it yourself workout drinks pick up a copy of Nutrient Timing: The Future of Sports Nutrition.
|Nutrients||Daily Needs||Food||Watermelon||% DV|
Total Nutrients at 10%+
|B5 (Pantothetic Acid)||5||mg||0.34||6.80%|