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Carbohydrate Plus Protein Increases Endurance

A pasta supper before a race is traditional because athletes believe that carbohydrate loading is the best way to prepare their muscles. A study from the University of Texas shows that taking foods with both carbohydrates and proteins increases an athlete’s endurance more than eating just carbohydrates (International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, Volume 13, Issue 3, 2003).

When you exercise vigorously for more than two hours, you need to take extra fluid, salt and calories. The best way to do this is to drink whatever fluid tastes best to you, and eat any food that includes plenty of salt. Many studies show that taking in extra carbohydrates during an event prolongs endurance, so athletes often eat oranges and other fruits, cookies, sandwiches and any other carbohydrate-rich food that they like. This study shows that they will have even greater endurance if they also take in high-protein food such as cheese, meat, chicken or fish. During prolonged, intense exercise, your muscles are damaged and the extra protein supplies protein building blocks called amino acids that can help to limit muscle breakdown and hasten recovery.


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Dear Dr. Mirkin: When I have a cold or the flu, will I get better faster by staying in bed for a day or two or by doing my usual chores?

A huge review of the medical literature showed that there is no evidence that bed rest helps you to heal faster from any medical condition. During World War II, American soldiers were drafted and sent to do their basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. A major epidemic of flu occurred affecting almost all the troops. Half of the soldiers were kept in bed, while the other half stayed in the vigorous exercise of basic training. Both groups required the same amount of time to recover, although those forced to undergo the rigorous demands of basic training complained more.

Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia searched the medical literature from 1966 to 1999 and found only 39 studies testing whether bed rest benefits any medical condition. Twenty-four studies showed that bed rest was of little or no benefit in preventing side effects of medical procedures such as spinal anesthesia, spinal fluid withdrawal, and multiple x ray procedures. Fifteen studies showed no benefit in treating medical conditions such as low back pain, spontaneous labor, high blood pressure during pregnancy, uncomplicated heart attacks, rheumatoid arthritis or infectious hepatitis. So the next time you feel sick, stay in bed if you like, but it probably won't help you recover faster.


Dear Dr. Mirkin: Should I seek out foods containing fructose instead of sucrose or other sugars?

No. Fructose is processed differently in the body than the far more common sugar, glucose. Glucose causes the pancreas to release insulin which drives sugar from the bloodstream into cells. Glucose causes fat cells to release leptin that makes you feel full so you eat less; it also prevents the stomach from releasing ghrelin that makes you hungry. On the other hand, fructose does not cause fat cells to release leptin and does not suppress ghrelin. This means that fructose increases hunger to make you eat more. Furthermore, the liver converts fructose far more readily to a fat called triglyceride, than it does with glucose. High triglyceride levels raise blood levels of the bad LDL cholesterol and lower blood levels of the good HDL cholesterol, which increases heart attack risk.

Several recent studies show that drinking large amounts of soft drinks is associated with increased risk for obesity and that the extra gain in weight is not due just to the calories in the soft drinks. Evidently something in soft drinks makes people eat more food than they would otherwise. High fructose corn syrup may be that factor. High fructose corn syrup is the leading sweetener in the United States today, with 4.5 billion dollars worth sold each year. High-fructose corn syrup first appeared in the American market in 1966, and now the average American takes in 62.6 pounds per year.

Large amounts of fructose appear to cause insulin resistance, impair glucose tolerance, produce high levels of insulin, raise triglycerides, and cause high blood pressure in animals. Not all of these studies have been replicated in humans, but there is every reason to believe that large amounts of fructose will have the same adverse effects. High-fructose corn syrup is found in almost all non-diet soft drinks and fruit beverages, and in a wide variety of processed foods. Check the list of ingredients in the foods you buy.


Recipes for four easy, delicious vegetable curries:
Sweet Potato Curry
Mushroom Mix Curry
Green Bean-Potato Curry
Any Vegetable! Curry

List of Diana's Healthful Recipes

June 27th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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