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Product Review: EMEND Recovery Drink
By:  Tom McCarthy   (2007/06/27)


XC Ottawa has been using Medion Corp's EMEND Heat Recovery Formula as our post-workout recovery drink for over a year now, which has given us ample time to debate, discuss, and personalize our EMEND intake.

You can find the specifics of EMEND on their website. EMEND includes some protein,including essential and branched chain amino acids and glutamine, which some studies suggest will enhance muscle repair processes and speed glycogen replacement. Its main ingredient is carbohydrates (some high glycemic carbs since they tend to replenish glycogen more quickly), and it also includes electrolytes to replace all those lost in sweat during your workout. This ratio and of water, protein, and electrolytes is specially formulated for optimal absoprtion to enhance the recovery process, as well as rehydrate you. It's also less acidic than many sport recovery mixes, which makes it easier on the tummy. And the orange flavour doesn't taste half bad, either!!

EMEND is marketed as a 'heat' recovery drink, ideally for exercising and nutritional replenishment in very hot conditions. It might seem odd, then, that cross-country skiers would swear by it, as XC Ottawa does. Until you realize that we live in Ottawa, where I've just returned from training in 37 degree humidity. Skiing is only part of the year – the rest of the year we're rollerskiing on hot black pavement, pulling tires up hills in the blazing sun, and pushing intervals up Penguin – definitely heat-inducing exercises. Finally, cross-country skiing, while a 'cold' sport, is definitely not cold at high levels of exertion – sweat loss and energy expenditure are very high in cross-country skiing.

So, having said that, EMEND provides the perfect recovery drink for our workouts. I find the drink tastes better than any protein-enhanced recovery drink I've ever had. It definitely fills me up after a workout, and I wake up the next morning more recovered than without taking EMEND. Quite simply, it's just easier to drink than its competitors – I actually WANT to drink this cuz it tastes pretty refreshing.

EMEND is definitely for AFTER your workout and not during, preferably right after or within 30 mins post workout (at least within 2 hrs) when your muscles are most receptive to replenishing glycogen. This period is when blood flow is enhanced and your muscle membranes are more permeable to glucose and the effects of insulin, which helps promote glycogen synthesis. Some studies have suggested that during this so-called "glycogen window" your muscles replenish glycogen up to three times faster than at other times. Although this "glycogen window" can last up to 1 hour or more, experts recommend consuming carbohydrates immediately since this is when your muscles are most greedy for fuel. For DURING your workout, we recommend eload.

We've all developed our own optimal mixes for EMEND – some of us like to experiment using EMEND with ingredients other than water. Craig really likes EMEND with iced tea – Orange Pekoe or Earl Grey, or the iced tea crystals – whenever he's looking for a different taste.

I've recently discovered that EMEND is amazing in a milkshake – it tastes super-good, and the orange flavour comes out great. Try mixing it in a blender with a banana, two scoops of ice cream, some milk, and some 100% natural whole wheat bran (optional – to keep you regular). Put in 1.5-2 scoops of EMEND, and see how good that tastes!!

A word of warning from Sheila, our nutritionist, about mixing EMEND with other than water: getting the protein/carb/electrolyte/liquid balance for optimal absorption might take some experimenting. You want something that is easy to digest and absorb after intense exercise - too much sugar or protein isn't always the best.

Finally, Sheila wrote a great "refueling for recovery" article for the why's & how's of post-exercise nutrition. While specially formulated recovery drinks aren't essential for optimal recovery (you can probably figure out a food/beverage combination that will work), they are certainly convenient and take care of a lot of the guesswork.

Interesting Reading. . .
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