If you want to go from being a mediocre weekend rider to a distance cyclist one of the things you have to work on is your post-ride recovery. You probably already know that protein is essential for muscle recovery, but how can you help repair the connective tissues in your tendons and ligaments? The folks at NeoCell Corporation in Santa Ana, California recently sent me a container of their new Collagen Sport Whey Isolate Complex to try and I think any aspiring distance cyclist should give this product a try.
Like most quality protein drinks the Collagen Sport Whey Isolate Complex contains whey protein isolate and is loaded with essential and branched chain amino acids (including glycine, proline, hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine). I am not going to reprint their entire product label, but one serving has a wide range of vitamins (about the same as in a multi-vitamin) and 1,000 grams of L-glutamine, the main amino acid that drives nitrogen into muscle cells for muscle synthesis and repair. Each serving also has 50mg of pomegranate extract, a powerful antioxidant.
Most of the time we choose nutritional products because of what they contain. However, Collagen Sport stands out because of what it does not contain! Collagen Sport Whey Isolate Complex contains no gluten, wheat, sugar, lactose, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, fillers or synthetic ingredients.
The biggest problem with most protein drinks is the taste and/or texture. I don’t suppose anyone will ever confuse a protein drink with a milkshake from the local ice cream shop, but the Belgian Chocolate Collagen Sport Whey Isolate Complex actually has a decent flavor. However, what is more important to me is the texture. Most of the protein drinks I’ve tried in the past have been rather gritty (and that is being kind). Surprisingly, Collagen Sport dissolved easily in water and did not clump like nearly every other protein drink I’ve tried.
I don’t usually share recipes, but here is my favorite way to prepare this protein drink: Pour one scoop of Collagen Sport Complex and eight ounces of cold water into your blender, then add one banana and two cups of frozen strawberries, then mix until smooth (about 30 seconds). You should end up with something like a smoothie, but this one not only has the 30 grams of protein, but also gives you three servings of fruit and weighs in at under 350 calories. It takes me about three minutes to prepare this smoothie and it is very refreshing after a long ride.
This product is available in two flavors: French Vanilla and Belgian Chocolate. I tried the chocolate flavor, but vanilla flavored protein mixes offer more versatility if you want to mix it with fresh fruits or juices to make a smoothie. A three-pound container (30 servings) of Collagen Sport Whey Isolate Complex retails for $50, but you can buy it from Amazon.com for around $33.