Strength athletes are well versed in the importance of
for optimal recovery and performance.
Historically endurance athletes
have focused only on carbohydrates with little attention to protein.
Emerging research is changing that paradigm. The most recent study
examined the effects of different recovery beverages on recovery in
highly trained cyclists. The cyclists participated in 3 trials. During
each visit they performed a standardized bout of exercise to deplete
glycogen levels in their muscles. Immediately after the exercise and 2
hours into recovery they were provided one of three beverages: a
commercial carbohydrate-based fluid replacement drink (31 g carbs), a
commercial high carbohydrate drink (73 g carbs), and a beverage matched
for energy that contained both carbohydrate (63 g carbs) and protein
(14 g protein) in the form of chocolate milk. After 4 hours into
recovery, the cyclists performed a cycle to exhaustion test at 70% of
their maximal power output. The longer they lasted, the better the
performance. The results were quite surprising. When the cyclists
consumed the beverages containing only carbohydrate, they lasted only
21-23 minutes. The carbohydrate-protein beverage allowed the cyclists
to last 32 minutes, representing a 51% improvement in performance. How
extra protein during recovery enhanced subsequent performance remains
clear, but enhanced glycogen synthesis, increased protein synthesis,
faster recovery, and augmented immune responses have been postulated.
The findings indicate that strength athletes are not the only ones who
benefit from protein during recovery.
K, Morris P, Stevenson E. Improved endurance capacity following
chocolate milk consumption compared with 2 commercially available sport
drinks. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2009 Feb;34(1):78-82.