Serving size: 3/4 cup (55g) er serving: 190 calories; 35g carbohydrate; 10g protein; 6g fat (1g saturated fat, no trans fats); 140mg sodium How obtained: sample from company
For years my standard breakfast has begun with a big bowl with two or three cereal brands jumbled together and served with skim milk and a banana. I mix shredded wheat, Grape Nuts, my wife’s homemade granola and several other kinds of crunchies indiscriminately.
After rides or in the evening, I often gobble another bowl with a different mixture. When I’m traveling I mix cereal with non-fat powdered milk in a baggie, then pour it in a bowl and add water. it’s a great instant breakfast in the motel before events or while camping — no refrigeration needed.
So being a bit of a cereal connoisseur, I was interested to hear that Nature’s Path, a widely available brand of organic cereal, was producing a product — Optimum Rebound — specifically for recovery after hard exercise. Ingredients include organic rolled oats, roasted soy nuts, whole wheat meal, raisins, almonds and sunflower seeds. Plus some exotic elements like cinnamon, sea salt, matcha green tea, molasses and vitamin E. The concoction is sweetened with “organic evaporated cane juice.”
Breakfast cereal is a nearly perfect recovery food for endurance athletes. Eaten with skim milk and a banana, it delivers both carbohydrate and protein. However, most brands don’t include enough protein to achieve the 4:1 carbohydrate/protein ratio that several studies have shown produces the fastest replenishment of glycogen, the muscle fuel. Protein also stimulates muscle growth and aids in the repair of damaged muscle fibers, which naturally occurs during a hard ride.
Nature’s Path worked with a sports nutritionist to formulate Optimum Rebound so that it comes close to a 4:1 ratio. One 3/4-cup serving has 35 grams of carbohydrate and 10 grams of protein. With skim milk and a banana a serving packs about 300 calories — enough to jump start your glycogen storage after a hard ride. it’s quick, easy and goes down well.
A serving also contains antioxidants that Nature’s Path claim “reduce muscle damage caused by exercise-induced free radical production.” And it has omega-3 fats “to reduce inflammation caused by intense training.”
While most cereals are less expensive than many commercial recovery drinks, cereal is no longer cheap. Like Optimum Rebound, many brands cost around $4 a box. But after a long ride spent slurping sweet sports drinks and chewing cloying energy bars, the last thing I want for post-ride recovery nutrition is another sweet drink. So cereal has been my ???secret??? recovery food for years. I’m not alone in my cereal fixation — many pros are on the wagon too.
How’s Optimum Rebound taste? Everyone has different preferences in this department, but I liked the crunchy, nutty taste although each bite had undertones that I suspect result from the soy and molasses. Not unpleasant, just slightly different.
Of course, I also fell back into my old habit of mixing this cereal with other brands. And That’s where Optimum Rebound really shines. By fine-tuning the mix, I get it to taste just the way I want. After hard rides, the resulting concoction often tempted me into downing not one but two bowls or about 600 calories. That’s a perfect caloric count for quick recovery considering my 160 pounds.
Is Optimum Rebound necessarily superior to your current cereal? it’s probably not significantly better in terms of recovery (many other cereals — with skim milk added — have a similar carbohydrate/protein ratio), but I found that because Optimum Rebound is billed as a recovery aid I was more inclined to fill up right after a ride when muscle cells are crying for glycogen and store it more readily.
I’ll continue to use Optimum Rebound after training this winter to see if it makes a difference. But merely by serving as a reminder to eat right after a ride, I bet it helps my recovery.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred’s full bio.