Category Archives: recovery

Making a Vegan Protein Shake 101

I’ve been making protein shakes ever since I started getting serious about cycling several years back.   The reason being, it’s the fastest way to nourish yourself after a workout or ride and to start repairing your torn muscles.  It’s recommended that you take protein, any form of it, within 30 minutes after finishing your workout.  Some say, up to an hour.  And still others say, within the day depending on your intentions.  If you want that metabolic “burn” to continue throughout the day, you may wait a little longer to take the protein.  But with my metabolism already naturally high, I take it within 30 minutes – maximum.  What you don’t want to do is to starve your system in such a way that it starts to feed on the muscles, keeping it in a catabolic state – something I’ve done in the past.  A protein shake can help you avoid that – that is, if you’re not overtraining.

With each year, I’ve refined my list of ingredients in making the ultimate protein shake.  I went from just using whey protein powder with 2% milk, to going full vegan with Sun Warrior and almond milk, then transitioning to Hemp protein (which I regard as the cleanest plant protein) and organic coconut milk.  I further refined it by adding more whole foods and spices to the mix for more anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory qualities:


  • 300 ml organic coconut milk by So Delicious;
  • 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of Nutiva Hemp Protein, natural flavor;
  • several dashes or 1 teaspoon of organic turmeric;
  • a couple of pinches of ground black pepper, to act as an adjuvant for the turmeric;
  • a couple of pinches of pink Himalayan salt;
  • a few slivers of pickled or whole ginger;
  • 1 teaspoon of real Maine maple syrup;
  • a dozen blueberries;
  • 1 organic banana;

Optional ingredients

  • 1 shot cold brew organic espresso;
  • a dash or two of organic cacao.

Place all the ingredients together in a blender and mix.  I use a small one by Hamilton Beach and cram everything in there, leaving just enough space for the contents to move and mix together without exploding and spilling.

This shake didn’t last long.

Coconut milk

The reason I use organic coconut milk is because conventional milk has antibiotics and growth hormones and it’s hard for me to digest.  Not having conventional milk also eliminated mucus in my system.  I shifted to almond milk, only to find out it has carrageenan.  Apparently, the organic Silk brand doesn’t have it, but I’ve gotten tired of the taste and it’s very expensive.  Not only that, there’s very little almonds used in almond milk.  There are many more benefits in drinking coconut milk and it naturally comes straight from coconuts with little processing.

Hemp protein

I use the Nutiva brand but there are also others.  It’s a product of Canada, probably from Manitoba, because there’s a comparable company that produces a ton of hemp products.

“Hemp seeds contain one of the most complete protein profiles of any nut or seed known to mankind. They get even better; they also contain the right ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Their GLA (Gamma linolenic acid) content is 30% for whole seeds and 10% for protein powders. They taste delicious and nutty and do not overpower the other flavors like some vegetarian shake mixes tend to do.”

As I mentioned before, I’ve tried whey protein before.  But for some reason, my stomach started to revolt after years of taking it when I did some bodybuilding, so I stopped.


There are many benefits to using turmeric.  Mainly, it’s because of its anti-inflammatory qualities.  Some brands of turmeric have lead in them.  The brand I use, Simply Organic, does not.  Beware of what you buy and always do your research on the source.  The best thing to do is to grow your own, of course.  I buy it out of convenience.


This too is anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory.  The Chinese have been using it for centuries in every vegetable dish to its mitigate impurities and I’ve always had it in my meals growing up with my grandmother and mother’s cooking.  But you don’t want to eat it in a dish because it absorbs all the impurities.  It’s okay to eat it raw or pickled within a shake, however.


If you believe in the hype, people call it a superfood.  To me, they’re just blueberries and they’re delicious and high in fibre.  Adding blueberries to your protein shake will add another taste dimension.  This too have anti-oxidative qualities along with vitamins and nutrients you need to recover.

Real maple syrup

If you want some natural sugars in your protein shake, this is the way to do it.  It’s has numerous antioxidants to fight those exercise-generated free radicals, low on the glycemic index for better release of nutrients, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer, and has numerous vitamins and minerals.

Organic bananas

This adds body to your shake more than the other ingredients.  It makes it thicker and is ideal because of the amount of potassium and carbohydrates it has to refuel your system.  And as cyclists, this is usually the go-to on-bike snack for refueling.  Do I really need to talk more about it?

The idea behind the protein shake is to make something that tastes good, nourishes you and works for you and your stomach.  It may take several tries before you get it right.  If you have your own version of a protein shake, feel free to share in the comments or mention me on an Instagram post.

The Missing Piece: Making Yin Yoga your Recovery Strategy

Off season training has started.  And with it comes a strategy checklist of what you’re supposed to be doing:

  1. Training plan consisting of TrainerRoad (what I use), Training Peaks, CTS, Zwift or various GCN YouTube training videos – check.
  2. Nutrition – low acidity, alkali diet consisting organics, nuts, vegetables , fruits and some fish with little to no red meat – check.
  3. Cross-train with functional exercises and weight training – check.
  4. Reading books to refine your playbook if you’re a competitive cyclist – check.

That’s it, right?

What’s missing?

For you type-A personalities, which is most of you, because you wouldn’t be planning all of this if you didn’t want to improve, there’s one key factor you haven’t thought about.

What is your recovery regiment?

What’s that you say?  You don’t have one?

What if your rest consists of focused, intentional rest that will benefit your body ten-fold?  What if that rest was also a prelude to building a foundation for increased flexibility, to rejuvenate and restore your connective tissues all the while your muscles recover?

What if I told you that Yin Yoga is the key to being a better cyclist?

While I’m no coach, I am experienced in what works and what doesn’t when it comes to training strategies.  It’s taken a few years to experiment and refine my approaches, and the one thing I found was that without Yin Yoga, I wouldn’t be able to train or race at a higher level at my age group.  I was introduced to this practice over three years ago and I haven’t stopped.

With the amount of ferocious movement in racing and training, your mind, body and soul needs something different to keep your sanity.  When you have a practice like Yin Yoga that contrasts to your “always on” mentality, something spectacular happens:

  • You feel rested;
  • You feel the stillness;
  • You become grounded in your body;
  • You become more aware;
  • You gain control over your nerves;
  • You feel relaxed, restored, rejuvenated;
  • You are calm and balanced in your mind – crucial in key moments of a race or sprint for bragging rights;
  • You have balance to the internal organs and improved flow of Qi (Chi) or Prana through Meridian stimulation.

And your cycling activity improves:

  • You can handle more training stress (TSS);
  • You can do stages races (Killington Stage Race) and multi-day rides (Trek Across Maine) more effectively with less pain and stiffness;
  • You output more power and become more efficient;
  • You get into the zone more often.

In essence:

“Yin Yoga strengthens the connective tissues and lubricates the joints.  The objective is to reduce the amount of fixation caused by poor posture or repetitive yang movement such as cycling.  By doing Yin Yoga, you increase flexibility and support for yang activities.  This increase in flexibility means you can get lower and more aerodynamic in your body position on the bicycle, making you faster.  Certain poses alleviate chronic muscle problems such as lower back pain, aggravated by long rides in fixed positions.”


What do you think?  Will you make recovery focused and intentional?  Just add it to your checklist:

5.  Yin Yoga for recovery.

Starting January 2018, join me Wednesday evenings at 5:45pm at Metta Studios in Biddeford for Yin Yoga for Athletes.

UPDATE:  Since September 2018, I’m currently teaching Yin Yoga at The Sunshine Factory in South Portland, Sundays at 5:30pm.