Today’s question is about using Wendy’s Chili for a post-ride recovery meal…

Hi Levi,
First I’d like to thank you for all of your great advice that you put out there for us. I have found some really helpful tips, like the Queen Helene cocoa butter.

I was wondering what you think of Wendy’s chili for a recovery meal after a 2 hr. XC mt. bike ride at 85% effort?

Pre ride- I eat a bowl of oatmeal w/ banana ,drink a FRS energy drink, take 300 mg beta alanine and drink water during the ride (about 1.5 bottles) (incase you needed that info to determine dietary needs post ride)

Many thanks and keep up the great job!!

Wendy Darling

Hey Wendy,

Thanks for the kind words, glad to have you on board!

Let me start by saying that chili is one of those foods that never appealed to me. If you stopped me on the street and asked me what was in chili, I’d probably say it’s tomato soup with beans in it. That would be my best guess! So I can’t really speak from experience, but I looked at the Wendy’s menu to see what’s up…

From the Wendy’s Menu

Here are the main Nutrition Facts I pulled up:

Nutrition Facts

Calories 310
Total Fat 9g
Saturated Fat 3.5g
Cholesterol 60mg
Sodium 1330mg
Carbohydrates 31g
Fiber 10g
Sugars 10g
Protein 26g

And the chili ingredients:


Large Chili
Water, Chili Base (tomatoes, salt, citric acid, calcium chloride), Ground Beef, Vegetable Mix (onions, celery, green peppers), Chili Beans (beans, water, sugar, corn syrup, salt, natural flavorings, onion powder, calcium chloride), Kidney Beans (kidney beans, water, sugar, corn syrup, salt, natural flavorings, onion powder, calcium chloride, disodium EDTA [preservative]), Chili Seasoning (sugar, salt, modified corn starch, chili pepper, onion powder, spices, dextrose, garlic powder, citric acid, disodium inosinate & guanylate, xanthan gum, autolyzed yeast extract, soybean oil, caramel color, extractives of paprika, malic acid, red 40, natural and artificial flavor, silicon dioxide [anticaking agent]).

Hot Chili seasoning
Water, Corn Syrup, Salt, Distilled Vinegar, Natural Flavors, Xanthan Gum, Caramel Color.

Saltine Crackers
Enriched Flour (wheat flour, niacinamide, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate [vitamin B1], riboflavin [vitamin B2], folic acid), Soybean Oil (contains TBHQ for freshness), Salt, Contains 2% or less of: Corn Syrup, Leavening (baking soda, yeast), Soy Lecithin. CONTAINS: SOY, WHEAT

Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Cultured Pasteurized Milk, Salt, Enzymes, Artificial Color, Potato Starch and Powdered Cellulose (to prevent caking), Natamycin (natural mold inhibitor). CONTAINS: MILK.

Chili Analysis

The first thing that popped into my mind is that it’s probably loaded with salt and preservatives (fast food is notorious for this.) Sure enough, it is. For a large chili, there’s 1330mg sodium. I could cut you some slack since you’re out there sweating and only drinking water, but still, that’s a lot of sodium. Think about it this way – if you drank 1.5 bottles of Accelerade during the ride and then had a bottle of Endurox R4 as your recovery drink, that is around 600-700mg sodium total!

And then looking through the ingredients, there are quite a few preservatives and colorings in there. Not that sports drinks are any better, but I gotta point it out for general health reasons.

Next up, calories. 310 calories. That’s good. Right around 300 is usually a good choice post-ride.

Now, 31g carbs, 26g protein, and 9g fat. This is more like a well-balanced meal than a post-ride recovery meal. That can still work just fine, unless you are in the middle of a stage race or something. Like if you were doing tough, 2 hour XC rides every day, I’d be worried about getting more carbs in your recovery meal. But on a more realistic training schedule, you can probably replenish your glycogen stores thanks to your normal meals, especially if you eat oatmeal.

In the end, chili doesn’t follow the standard recovery meal protocol, but I think it would be a suitable recovery meal for some people, just not for everyone. If you like it, and it likes you, try it out. Just watch your energy levels. If your training load increases and your energy levels are decreasing, try more post-ride carbs. Preferably something with less fiber, too.

This chili would probably be a pretty good post-workout meal for the off-season, but definitely not my top choice for a high-carb recovery meal during regular training. And you can make your own decision on the sodium and preservatives issue.

Anyone else try Wendy’s chili? Or maybe make your own chili for post-ride meals?

  1. There is no strong evidence that cutting salt intake reduces the risk for heart attacks, strokes or death in people with normal or high blood pressure.

  2. @Jim

    Sort of. As with most things, studies on that topic are conflicting. And as usual, I’m not a huge fan of studies anyway. But I am a fan of eating natural, and fast food is anything but.

    I don’t need strong evidence to make me think twice about something from Wendy’s! 🙂

    I’m not sure if you’re trying to prove that fast food is good for you, or that I’m stupid for making the sodium comparison, but either way, you have to do better than a vague remark. Perhaps you could point me to some example studies? Cheers.

  3. @Coach Levi

    Jim must be a lobbyist for the USDS (the United States Department of Salt.)

  4. @Stu


    Believe me, I’m a fan of salt. I love to salt my foods. Especially with pink salt.

    The problem here isn’t necessarily the amount of salt, but rather, the question of why it’s necessary to add so much salt into the recipe!

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