RECIPE: The MK1 Recovery Triangles™ total recovery solution (homemade high protein recovery bars)

BACKGROUND

With all the ultra hard, Energy Rectangle™ fuelled (read: caffeine fuelled) training sessions you are smashing out, your muscles will need all the help they can get to recover.  Everyone has a favourite recovery food; mine is obviously porridge, usually with protein powder mixed in to boost protein content, but anything with some carbs (to replenish glycogen in the muscles) and protein (to help absorb the glycogen and muscle repair) will do. The problem I find is managing to eat within the 20min ‘recovery window’ post exercise (this is the optimum time to eat, when the body will more readily take up glycogen); cleaning my bike down, having a shower, text message admin etc, means it’s usually an hour before I eat anything substantial.

So, to perfectly complement the Energy Rectangle™ energy solution, I have created the Recovery Triangle™ total recovery solution. A delicious (well, edible at least) bar to have on standby, optimally formulated to replenish your muscles, that can be eaten immediately post exercise before making something proper (and nice).

FORMULATING THE RECOVERY TRIANGLE

I am no doctor or sports nutritionist, but I do know that a recovery food should  have a good amount of carbs in it to replace the glycogen in your muscles, but should have a fairly high protein content (higher than an energy bar or rectangle) to not only help the body absorb the glycogen but also to help repair muscles. I looked at some popular recovery bars on the market, and noticed that there didn’t seem to be a hard and fast ratio of carbs : protein. A quick google, shows many differing opinions on this. For example,

  • "The 3:1 carbohydrate:protein post-exercise protocol is rational for the endurance athlete, especially if lean muscle mass recovery is the objective" [From hammer nutrition]
  • "simply a snack or meal providing 15 to 25 grams of protein, regardless of the amount of carbs" & "if enough protein is consumed, the ratio is not as critical and can be relaxed slightly. For optimal recovery, aim for a ratio somewhere between 2:1 and 4:1 if you’re into counting grams of carbs and protein." [From Runners World]
  • "Following initial fuelling immediately after exercise, meals should be consumed little and often to promote a full recovery. Around 20 grams high quality protein, 1-1.2 grams per kg body mass carbohydrate" [From SIS website]

So my conclusion is, that it perhaps is not so critical as long as the recovery snack has a fair amount of protein and some carbs in it. Taking the popular CNP protein bar (as used by Team Sky, if you believe the marketing) as an example, it has the following nutritional content;

Nutrition profile of CNP Recovery bar

So from a 70g bar there are 20g carbs and 30g protein. i.e a 2:3 ratio!

Using the same spreadsheet I used to formulate the Energy Rectangle™ I got to work to try and match the nutritional profile. It was hard getting the same amount of protein as the CNP bar. 30g is a huge amount of protein (approximately 45% by mass); my preferred protein powder is only ~60% protein by mass on its own . However, after some tweaking, I came up with an initial basic recipe that has a similar nutritional profile and one which I thought would taste nice and hold together when formed into triangles. I made a few batches using the initial recipe, and have since made a few additional adjustments to further refine the triangle recipe.

The final 75g bar has 265kcals, 27g Carbs and 18g Protein (i.e. a 3:2 ratio). The cost (including the extras listed below) comes in at 39p, which is favourable compared to shop bought recovery bars which are usually way over £1.

 

ADDING THE PUREST GREEN

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word triangle? Probably not a quality street green triangle, but that would certainly be up there in the top 50. I thought there would be no better way to honour the quality street green triangles triangular credentials than to attempt to mimic this in the Recovery Triangles. To do this, I have added 0.5tbsp of Matcha Green Tea powder to the topping. Matcha powder has all sorts of health benefits. Having just 2.5g of Matcha Powder is equivalent to drinking 150cups of green tea.

YOGHURT TOP

Cereal bars with a yoghurt flavour topping are delicious, so I decided to top the triangles with something similar – a white chocolate and yoghurt topping. This is perhaps a bit unnecessary, and I don’t really think it adds anything nutritionally to the triangle other than a load of fat. It does taste delicious though, and complements the flavour and texture of the bar.

WRAPPING THE BARS

I employed a similar wrapping technique as to the rectangles, using paper lined foil. I also printed off a new sticker sheet to help hold the wrappers together. I don’t really think it is essential to wrap these, as they will mainly be kept at home, so keeping them in an airtight container would suffice.

STORAGE

I wasn’t sure if the triangles would need refrigerating, as they have milk in them and the protein powder has therefore been wetted. However, I have been keeping them on my kitchen worktop at room temperature for a couple of weeks at a time with no noticeable issues.

RECIPE: The Recovery Triangle™

INGREDIENTS (Makes 20 triangles)

For the base:

  • Oats 150g
  • Peanut Butter 75g
  • Golden Syrup 200g
  • Corn Flakes (crushed up) 50g
  • Sultanas 50g
  • Peanuts 100g
  • Protein Powder 350g
  • Salt 1g
  • Milk 250ml

For the topping:

  • White chocolate (broken into small pieces) 200g
  • Yoghurt 75g
  • Matcha Tea 2.5g

Total Mix 1504g / Per Bar 75g

METHOD

  1. Weigh the peanut butter and golden syrup and add to a pan on the hob.
  2. Heat gently. The peanut butter and syrup mix should start to melt together and become runnier.
  3. While keeping the pan on a low heat, add all the base ingredients and mix quickly while the syrup/peanut butter mix is still warm and runny.
  4. Once thoroughly mixed, add the mix to a lined baking tray.
  5. Press the mixture down hard, and smooth over with the back of a spoon.
  6. Leave to cool.
  7. Prepare the topping by melting the chocolate in a pan, over a very low heat.
  8. Once the chocolate has melted, stir in the yoghurt and quickly mix.
  9. Sprinkle in the matcha tea powder.
  10. Spread the topping over the base and allow to set.
  11. Turn the cooled mixture out of the tray, and then divide into 20 equal portions. (TIP: leave a length of greasproof paper under the base, to use as a 'hoist' to remove the base from the tray once cooled).
  12. Wrap each triangle and apply a sticker.