Boost Your Endurance with Protein-Loading!!
by Greg DiRenzo, CPT
|High Protein Foods.|
It has been “instructed” for decades that for athletes, carbohydrates are often the go-to food when preparing for endurance based activities or intense exercise. Everyone says, “carb up and you will have more energy." But as a few of us have experimented with other means of “energy stores” and as a new report released this month by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) identifies a new nutrition option for endurance exercisers - PROTEIN. Huh… What… How can that be? “Carbing up” is what we have always been told will help us with more energy. Keep on reading and you will find out!
The recent report, titled "Effect of Increased Dietary Protein on Tolerance to Intensified Training," was published this month in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®, ACSM's official scientific journal. A research study led by Kevin Tipton, Ph.D., examined the effects of increased protein intake on endurance performance. "Endurance athletes - such as runners or cyclists - commonly rely on nutrition to enhance their post-exercise recovery," said Dr. Tipton, a researcher with the University of Stirling in Scotland. "For years, athletes have relied heavily on carbohydrate feeding for recovery. However, we wanted to explore the benefits of protein." Hmmmmm, interesting, personally all my clients and especially my athletes have been on a very similar program for years.
Not only can physical stress affect your performance, lifestyle stress can hurt it even more, but because of these findings, stress reduction and overall recovery can be improved with protein.
The study involved eight endurance-trained cyclists, they completed two three-week trials, divided equally into normal, intensified and recovery training. During the intensified and recovery training sessions, the cyclists were assigned either a normal or a high-protein diet. These cyclists consumed 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass in the normal diet and double that amount in the high-protein diet (example: 68kg = 150lbs = 102g of protein normal diet; 204g high protein diet). The results indicated that the athletes on the high-protein diet not only improved their endurance performance slightly after intense training but also reduced their stress levels! Yes, better endurance and less stress (better recovery). Not only can physical stress affect your performance, lifestyle stress can hurt it even more, but because of these findings, stress reduction and overall recovery can be improved with protein. The topic of “Stress” is another big, big, big discussion, but not here. Better recovery means you will have the ability to train at Homeostasis and allow for a Super-compensation training phase/cycle. That is the key, train to improve, and that primarily occurs in a Super-compensation phase/cycle, but if you are not recovered this will have a negative effect on your performance and training.
Dr. Tipton also noted, "Previous research has identified tyrosine, an amino acid found in protein, as a mood-booster. Whereas, we can't definitively say why the athletes felt a bit better with higher protein intake, it's possible the availability of tyrosine in our high-protein diet helped diffuse stress, thus contributing to the increase in performance."
The finding from this study shows the facts that I have believed for years and utilize with my clients and athletes (ask Trey Canard, Jimmy Albertson and Phil Nicoletti how much protein they had to eat!). This study also documents and provides qualitative data as well as the scientific proof that what we have been doing works and what I will continue to do with my clients, especially endurance performance oriented clients! As a coach and trainer, I hope more research will be done to further explore the benefits of long-term protein “feeding” for athletes. Now go out and get some steak, and maybe throw a little salt on it!
About the Author: Greg has over two decades of experience in exercise science and sports training. He holds several certifications in individual and group fitness instruction including TRX and sports performance. In motocross, he has worked with Phil Nicoletti, Jimmy Albertson and Trey Canard during Trey's 2008 East Coast Lites championship run. Visit Greg's website at ProFormers Training, on Twitter or Facebook. This guy is everywhere!
That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.