High-protein meals eaten immediately after hard exercise
have been shown to help athletes recover faster, but the data that
taking protein during exercise improves an athlete’s performance
is extremely weak.
Researchers from the University of Birmingham, UK, showed
that adding protein (19g/hour) to a sugared drink does not improve
one-hour cycling time trial, maximum power; or post exercise
isometric strength, muscle damage (CPK) or muscle soreness
(Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, June 2010). Protein also
does not help athletes cycle faster in a 50-mile time trial
(Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, August 2006).
Most studies showing that adding protein to a carbohydrate drink
improves performance were in people working at a fixed rate of
effort over a long time, rather than using spurts of energy as
athletes do in competition.
Just about everyone agrees that taking in a carbohydrate
drink helps improve performances in athletic events lasting more
than an hour. In events lasting more than three hours, you also
need salt. Calories come from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
During highly-intense exercise, your muscles use carbohydrates far
more efficiently than proteins or fats. So carbohydrates are the
calorie source of choice during intense exercise.
All sugared drinks except those with added artificial
sweeteners contain eight percent sugar because that is the
concentration at which the drinks taste best. You can increase
endurance equally with fruit juice, special energy drinks or
sugared carbonated soft drinks. Adding caffeine to the drink
increases endurance even more because it helps to preserve your
stored muscle sugar.