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You Do Not Need Protein during Exercise

A study from California State University, Fullerton shows that taking protein during exercise does not help you race faster (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research/National Strength & Conditioning Association, May 2012; 26(5):1361-5). A study from Denmark shows that taking protein during endurance exercise does not increase muscle growth (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, September 2011; 43(9):1635-42). On the other hand, taking protein after you finish exercising helps you recover faster so you can exercise again sooner.

MUSCLE TIREDNESS AND FATIGUE: Muscle tiredness and weakness during and after prolonged exercise are caused by lack of water, sugar, salt and calories. Your body stores very little sugar and an almost infinite amount of fat. These studies confirm many other studies which show that you don't need to take protein during exercise to improve performance or to hasten recovery. You will recover faster by taking sugar and protein within an hour after finishing your exhausting exercise.

Here's the recommended formula for taking food and drink during intense exercise:

• LASTING LESS THAN AN HOUR -- fit athletes do not need to take any food or drink, except they may need water on the hottest days.


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Recovery from Intense Exercise: Part 2

Last week I reviewed research on how to recover
faster from intense workouts to become a better athlete.

During intense exercise,
• you build up huge amounts of lactic acid,
• use up your sugar stored as glycogen in muscles, and
• damage the sarcomeres, the contractible part of muscles.

This week's journals have two important articles showing that you recover faster if you stay active immediately after your workout, and that applying ice slows muscle recovery.

The first study showed that exercising at low intensity helps you to recover faster from an intense workout than getting a massage, and massage helps you recover faster than resting (The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, April 2012; 52(2):122-7). The low-intensity exercise speeds your recovery by dropping lactate levels faster.

The second study shows that applying ice to muscles after an intense workout slows the replenishment of glycogen in muscles. Hard workouts use up stored glycogen and when you eat any form of carbohydrate, you refill your muscles with glycogen (The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, April 2012; 52(2):158-64). The best time to eat sugar and carbohydrate foods is within an hour after you finish exercising because after that, your muscles do not respond to insulin as well and do not take in sugar and protein as rapidly. Insulin drives both sugar and amino acid protein building blocks into muscles to speed recovery.


Does Eating Fast Increase Diabetes Risk?

A study from Lithuania found that those who eat their food very rapidly are 2.5 times more likely to develop diabetes than those who eat more slowly. Diabetics are also more likely to be overweight and have less schooling than non-diabetics. (International Congress of Endocrinology and European Congress of Endocrinology in Florence, Italy, May 9, 2012).

Here's the most likely explanation for the link between fast eating and diabetes:

• Diabetes is an environmental disease caused by eating too many foods that cause a rapid rise in blood sugar.

• Foods that do not cause a high rise in blood sugar, such as vegetables, whole grains and fruits, take longer time to eat because you have to chew them longer before you swallow them.

• Refined carbohydrates are already broken down so that you don't have to chew them very long before you swallow them.

• Whole grains are hard seeds of grasses that need to be cooked for a long time just to make them palatable and, even after being cooked, they must be chewed before swallowing. On the other hand, whole grains that are ground into flour are made into bakery products and pastas that require very little chewing. Whole grains cause small rises in blood sugar, while foods made from flour cause much higher rises in blood sugar.

• Fresh fruits and vegetables are full of fiber and need to be chewed extensively before you swallow them. Cooked or canned fruits and vegetables have been softened and so require less chewing. They often have the high-fiber skins removed and sugar added.

• Fruit juices and vegetable juices can be swallowed quickly and pass through the stomach very quickly, causing high rises in blood sugar.

Thus, people who eat faster are more likely to become diabetic because:
• they eat a higher percentage of processed and refined foods, which
• cause higher rises in blood sugar, which
• increases risk of diabetes


Recipe of the Week:

Shrimp Jambalaya

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book
- it's FREE


• LASTING MORE THAN AN HOUR -- Take sugared drinks just before you begin and frequently during intense exercise .

• LASTING MORE THAN THREE HOURS -- Take sugared drinks before you begin and frequently during intense exercise. Eat the food of your choice (fruit or sugar- added foods such as whole grain bars, etc.), plus a source of salt. We use potato chips or peanuts. You cannot get enough salt in a drink because it would taste awful.

• LASTING MORE THAN FIVE HOURS -- You need water, sugar, salt, and protein. Up to ten percent of the energy to power your muscles during exercise is supplied by protein stored in muscles. However, you do not lose enough muscle to harm performance during exercise until you have been exercising for more than five or six hours, so you do not need to take a protein food to improve performance during exercise until you have been exercising for about five hours. Protein sources include whole grain bars, nuts, meat, fish, chicken, or dairy products.

I eat whole grain bars that contain a lot of sugar and some protein just before, and sometimes DURING, ALL RACES LASTING MORE THAN AN HOUR.

May 13th, 2012
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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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