Recovery drinks, detox teas and slimming drinks: what's the verdict?

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR WHEN MANY OF US WILL BE REINSTATING OUR PREVIOUSLY DORMANT GYM MEMBERSHIPS, IMPROVING OUR DIETS & PROFESSING OUR NEWLY INVIGORATED ZEST FOR A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE – BUT DOES DETOXING OR ‘TEATOXING’ REALLY HAVE THE ANSWER? – JO HELCKÉ OFFERS SOME USEFUL ADVICE


The likelihood is that most of us, at some point in our lives, have given some kind of “miracle health product” a go. Let’s face it, we all love the idea of a quick-fix, one that’s easy and doesn’t involve a good deal of thought or effort. I have an entire kitchen shelf weighed down by zero calorie noodles that my husband enthusiastically invested in only to discover that he found them truly revolting. It was the whole “have your cake (noodles) and eat it” notion which caught him out. Unfortunately, there’s nearly always a catch somewhere…

Recovery drinks are big business these days, to be found all over the place, from supermarket aisles to leisure centre vending machines. Don’t, however, make the error of conflating recovery and energy drinks. They are not the same thing. Energy drinks contain a weird and not-very-wonderful mix of sugars, additives, caffeine and other stimulants that can leave you feeling jittery and wakeful just when you want to fall asleep. Kids seem to be irresistibly attracted to these alarmingly coloured concoctions, so I’d suggest taking preemptive action in the form of early years brain washing with regard to energy drinks… and fizzy drinks, if you ask me but I’m one of “those” mothers.

Recovery drinks, on the other hand, are specifically designed to help replenish your energy stores and repair your body after a long, hard workout. They generally contain a specific ratio of carbohydrates to protein which, research has shown, promotes muscle repair and growth, all whilst helping to reduce post-exercise muscle soreness. So far so good.

Having said this, some interesting research has been conducted which compares milk (chocolate flavoured) and recovery drinks and I’ll give you one guess as to the result. Yes, you’re right, milk appears to contain the perfect protein to carb balance, has no unnecessary and unpleasant additives and is cheaper not just by a mile but by about 6 miles! So it’s a very big thumbs up to milk and a so-so to recovery drinks. I guess, if downing a recovery drink makes you feel a whole lot more sporty then go for it, but I’d rather have the natural, unadulterated product that also happens to be much cheaper.

Whilst recovery drinks have been on the scene for many years, detox teas have made an appearance more recently and again, there seems to be a booming market for them. Now I have a confession: I’m a complete sucker for packaging and many of these supposed miracle infusions are beautifully branded. As a result, I’ve had a few of them lurking in my kitchen cabinets over the years. But what do they claim and do they really do anything useful? Many of them say that they can help you lose weight by revving up the metabolism. If you go onto some of the accompanying websites you’ll find diet plans designed to be followed alongside drinking their magic potions. The diet plans are such that weight loss is likely to occur, regardless of detox tea consumption…Many of these infusions contain added ingredients such as senna – watch out because this is a laxative with all that it entails – and guarana, which is a stimulant that I’d strongly suggest you avoid if insomnia is one of your bugbears. Green tea, which is stuffed full of health-giving antioxidants, also tends to be a key component. My thoughts? Invest in a pack of bog-standard green tea. It’s cheap, it’s good for you and it doesn’t include any peculiar additives. And if, like me, you love a good bit of packaging, then you’ll find all sorts of green teas with a marginal price mark-up all beautifully wrapped up! Try Pukka teas for cool branding, lovely flavours and affordability.

And so from detox teas to slimming drinks which, again, are very popular judging by the supermarket space dedicated to them. The first suggestion I’d make about these liquid “foods” is that you take a look at the list of ingredients before buying. In the interim let me just tell you that the list is invariably truly scary: it’s vast, it includes countless unpronounceable substances and it contains no palpably edible properties. Slimming drinks are not food despite being marketed as meal substitutes and, importantly, they do not teach normal, healthy eating habits which can be sustained throughout a lifetime. They are, sadly, the very embodiment of our quick-fix culture.

If we – you and I - want to make 2017 the year of good health then let’s just eat… eat good, real, nutritious, varied, health-giving, tasty food.



Dr Joanna Helcke is an expert in pregnancy and postnatal Pilates and winner of the UK's most prestigious fitness award: the 2014 FitPro Award for Excellence in Fitness.

 

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