Very Cherry

Back in my former life I was a sports dietitian.

Ok, I still am, but most days it doesn’t feel like that. I spend more of my time writing and chasing after a wild 13 month old than I do training clients. I’m ok with that {for now}, but when I get a chance to merge the worlds of sports nutrition and writing I get extra excited. Call me lame, I don’t care.

Today’s sports nutrition topic is… tart cherry juice!


One of the most important –and overlooked- elements of training is muscle recovery. You have to adequately recover before you can move on to your next training session and expect to make improvements in your performance. It may seem boring, but proper recovery isn’t as hard to achieve as you might think. And when I say “training”, I don’t mean you have to be some elite athlete- this applies to anybody looking to maximize their workouts, even if you do those workouts in the corner of your living room in what little spare time you have.


Back to muscle recovery. Most of the time we turn to protein for recovery after a workout. The amino acids that form protein help rebuild and repair the microscopic tears that occur in muscle tissue during training. It should be noted that carbohydrate after a workout is also important as it helps replenish lost glycogen stores. {Here’s some more about protein in exercise recovery from}

But we’re not talking about protein today. You likely already know a bit about protein, but do you know about tart cherry juice? It seems like an odd thing to associate with sports training or working out {usually juice is just a source of empty calories}, but research has shown some beneficial effects of using tart cherry juice to add with muscle recovery.

Some theories?

– The antioxidants in tart cherry juice {specifically from Montmorency cherries} may reduce damage from oxidative stress caused by intense exercise.

– Tart cherry juice contains polyphenolic compounds, such as flavonoids and anthocyanins, that reduce inflammation.

– The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in tart cherry juice can reduce the symptoms associated with intense exercise, including pain and loss of strength.

If you’re interested in research-y type things, you can read more:

Cheribundi, a company that makes tart cherry juice, sent me some samples to try a few months. While I’m not training for anything big right now, I do maximize my limited workout time by doing short, high intensity strength training. Most of the time it leaves me sore and feeling the burn for a couple days. {Which is good, but makes the next workout harder.}


I decided to give the cherry juice a try by including it in my post workout routine. My assessment? I’m less sore these days. But let’s be honest: I’m not a scientific study. I can’t tell you whether it’s the cherry juice, the post-workout protein intake, improvement in muscle strength from being consistent, or any other number of factors. I can tell you it tastes good though! The ginger and chocolate flavors are fun, but I’ve yet to try those. I prefer the original cherry juice, because if you’re drinking it for recovery, why skimp? {The
“skinny” version cuts the tartness with stevia as opposed to apple juice.} I don’t love that the bottle clearly states “Not From Concentrate”, but they’re only referring to the cherries- the apple juice is from concentrate. It’s needed for the flavor though- the word “tart” isn’t emphasized for nothing!


{Cheribundi makes a whey protein tart cherry juice which may be the best of both worlds: protein + antioxidants. I didn’t test this one since I can’t eat whey {a dairy protein} right now.}

I’d love to hear from you: have you tried tart cherry juice as part of your post workout routine? Do you think it helps/doesn’t help?

I’ve Got a Loverly Bunch of Coconuts {Giveaway!}

Coconut water, that is.

Coconut water is all the rage these days. It’s the new hot energy drink. Only it’s not new- and it’s not full of crazy ingredients.

Zico coconut water

Last week ZICO was kind enough to send me a case of coconut water to review, and boy was I ever happy to do so.

Coconut water is nature’s natural energy drink. It’s the liquid from the center of young, green coconuts. {Coconut milk is a mixture of coconut water and the white coconut meat.} It’s chock full of potassium and other electrolytes- the key component of energy-boosting drinks. Plus, there’s no fat, cholesterol, or added sugar.

coconut water energy drink

Each 14 oz bottle is only 60 calories, so while that may not be enough to refuel you for a tough workout, it’s a great way to rehydrate without adding too many calories.

I was surprised by the array of flavors- I’d only seen the Natural and Pomegranate flavors in the store, but this pack also include Lima Citron, Tau Mango, Pina Tropicale, and Chocolate.

flavored coconut water

My absolute favorite is the Pina Tropicale. The chocolate {and this coming from a non-chocoholic} is surprising delicious and rich. Not at all like what I would imagine chocolate-flavored water would taste like- more like chocolate milk. Especially since coconut water’s just a little bit thicker than regular water.

The ZICO coconut water is definitely best super ice cold- as it warms up, it tends to taste a little salty. It’s absolute the most refreshing thing to drink after a particularly sweaty workout- say, bikram yoga, or a bike ride in 98 degree weather.

hydration alternative

It’s also insanely delicious used as the base of an icy fruit smoothie!

tropical smoothie with coconut water

It doesn’t hurt that ZICO is a pretty cool company- founded by an athlete and Peace Corps volunteer, Mark Rampolla.The bottles are made from 30% recycled material, and the company’s committed to staying sustainable and responsible.

natural energy drink with electrolytes

Guess what?

ZICO’s giving you a chance to win your own case of ZICO coconut water. {Must be a US resident.}

How to Enter:

1. Answer the following question in the comment section:

How are you Naturally Powered?

For additional entries:

2. Take the Pledge to be Naturally Powered on ZICO’s Facebook page . ZICO will make a donation to the Challenged Athlete’s Foundation!

3. “Like” with a Side of Sneakers on Facebook. {You may find additional ways to enter over the course of the giveaway…wink wink.}

4. Tweet: “@SideofSneakers is getting Naturally Powered and giving away a whole case of @ZICO coconut water


Please leave a comment below for each method of entry. Winner will be chosen at random. You have until Monday at midnight EST to enter!!

naturally powered

Don’t forget to visit ZICO’s website for more information on fueling naturally with coconut water, or follow ZICO on Twitter or Facebook.

P.S. If you live in LA, NYC, or Miami follow your ZICO city on Twitter to find out how to get FREE ZICO! {@ZICOny, @ZICOla, @ZICOmia}

Peanut Butter Hazelnut Protein Frappuccino

Did you know eating right after a workout can prevent the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)?

Eating within 30 minutes after exercising can help repair and rebuild the muscles you abused during a workout. Recovering faster means less discomfort and better performance during your next workout. Win-win, right? The effects are even better if you include a little bit of protein.

But sometimes you’re not hungry after an intense sweat session, or maybe dinner’s just around the corner and you don’t want to spoil your appetite. You still need to eat!

That’s where protein shakes come in. I’m not a huge fan of protein powder- it’s super easy to get enough protein in your diet from food. You’re probably doing it without even trying. But, when you’re not hungry and you need to refuel, it comes in handy.

My favorite early-morning post-workout boost? Protein Frappuccino! Cappuccino? Something ccino…

protein shake


For 1 serving:

1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder {my fave is Sunwarrior}

1 T So Delicious Coconut Milk Hazelnut Creamer

1/4 c coffee {decaf is fine too!}

3/4 c almond milk

1 T smooth peanut butter


Blend & serve!!

protein frappuccino

For an ice cold version, toss in a handful of ice cubes after blending and blend again. {PB may not mix in if it’s too cold.}

sunwarrior protein shake

Not a vanilla-hazelnut fan?

The possibilities are endless:

Try a mocha version with chocolate protein powder or a spoonful of cocoa powder.

Make it tropical- skip the hazelnut creamer and almond milk and use coconut milk!

Have some sugar-free caramel syrup on hand? {umm, yes, I do} Make a protein caramel macchiato-Frappuccino!

vanilla hazelnut shake recipe

Was your workout long and strenuous? Bump up the carb content by blending in a handful of oats or a banana.


What’s your favorite post-workout fuel?

Beat the Heat: 6 Simple Keys to Stay Hydrated During Your Next Race

You know you’re supposed to hydrate when you exercise. You know you’re supposed to drink more when it’s hot out. But do you really know how to hydrate?

drink water

I grossly underestimated the power of the summer heat earlier this year at the North Face Challenge. I sipped on my water bottle all morning, but I failed to account for one big thing: the race didn’t start until mid-afternoon- when it’s really hot.

Unfortunately I realized my mistake only after I was 3 miles into the middle of the woods- dizzy, confused, and nauseas. I won’t go into explicit detail (but if you really want to know I did get a bit graphic in my race recap.) It wasn’t pretty.

With a 24 hour bike race around the corner in the peak of August heat, it’s time for me to make sure I don’t repeat that same mistake.

So now, the 6 simple rules of hydration I always knew but never quite followed until now:

How to Hydrate in the Heat

1. Start early. Don’t wait until the morning of the race to start drinking. You can only absorb so much so fast- you don’t want all that hydration going straight to the toilet. Worst case- start the day before. Your best bet- begin hydrating a few days before your event.

2. Replace sweat loss. To stay hydrated, you need to replace any fluid you lose. If you sweat a lot, you better bet you need to be drinking a lot! A good rule of thumb: weigh yourself before & after a workout. The amount of weight you lost is the amount you need to drink. (For every pound lost, drink 16 oz of fluid.) Don’t want to weigh yourself? Check your urine– it should be pale yellow, not dark & concentrated.

urine chart

<— “3” is the magic hydration number.

If your pee is darker, drink up!

(Chart developed by L. Armstrong, PhD)

3. Don’t rely on thirst. Our bodies are usually pretty good at telling us what we need, but unfortunately they’re a little slow on the uptake when it comes to thirst. You only feel thirsty after you’ve started to become dehydrated. Plus, your thirst is quenched before you’ve gotten all the fluid you need. So drink even if you’re not thirsty!

4. Drink at regular intervals. Water can turn to sweat in as little as 10 minutes. Drinking regularly throughout your workout or event is the best way to stay hydrated. Having small amounts of fluid frequently also helps to prevent that unpleasant sloshing feeling in your stomach.

5. Make it good & easy. The easier water or other fluid is to access, the more likely you are to drink it. Figure out what works for you- carrying a water bottle, using a Camel Bak, etc. Making it taste good helps you drink more too; so does having the fluid cold.

camel bak nathan water bottle

6. Choose fluids wisely. Water is fine for short events, but if you’re exercising for more than an hour, you probably want to try a sports drink or other fluid with electrolytes. What to look for: a drink that’s 6-8% carbohydrate & has at least sodium & potassium in it. [Most beverages marketed as ‘”sports drinks” meet these requirement; this isn’t the time to choose the low sugar option!]

Read this post to learn more about hydration.

As an added bonus, leave your best tip for staying hydrated & be entered to win a BPA-free insulated stainless steel water bottle from Thermos! They’re celebrating the launch of their Cold Matters series and one of you lucky SoS readers gets to win!

thermos bottle

For extra entries, share the hydration love and tweet this post!  (You know you like free stuff ;))

“Learn 6 Keys to Hydration from @sideofsneakers & get a chance to win a prize from #ThermosCold series!


Subscribe to SoS!

Let me know how you’ve entered with separate comments on the hydration post!!!! Ends Sunday 8/29!!

Have you ever gotten dehydrated during a race? What about in training?