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Protein: The Better Picker-Upper

Listen what I read in Muscle & Body magazine. Protein doesn’t just build muscles; it can also boost endurance. It’s all in the timing though.

Sure, carbs and quality fats are what fuel you. But if you neglect your protein needs – and the crucial timing rules of protein intake – you’re missing the boat, or at least missing being the guy who breaks the tape at the finish line.

Protein is vital for more that just building strong muscles: it takes enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals; it helps transport nutrients and regulates water balance; and it helps build and repair tissue throughout your body, which is especially critical when you are tearing down muscle tissue during training, or recovering from an injury.

What you may not realize is how protein affects glycogen, the storage form of carbohydrate. Your body stores a limited amount of carbs in your liver and muscles as glycogen, and you tap into this carbohydrate reserve every time you work out. Because glycogen is a limiting factor to endurance performance, it’s essential to top off this fuel tank every day. And this requires a conscious effort to consume carbs immediately after working out and sometimes while you’re training (depending on how long you train).

Because glycogen is a storage form of carbs, it makes sense that you need more carbohydrates to fill up your glycogen stores. However, recent studies indicate that the addition of a small amount of protein to your carb food or drink after a hard working out may stimulate greater glycogen synthesis than consuming carbs alone after your workout.

This is where things get interesting.

Researches found that consuming a sports drink with added protein allowed participants to cycle for a longer period of time than consuming a carb-only sports drink. When you translate this research to real life, it means that you may be able to exercise for a longer period of time when you consume a combination of carbs and protein while training.

Now, about my personal experience. The fact that protein really affects endurance, is quite understandable to me. During my pre-competition workouts, when the amount of carbs consumed was minimal, water desolved amino acids (which protein consists of) consumed during a workout indeed boosted my endurance. The authors of the Muscle & Body article suggest powder protein to be consumed while working out. To my oppinion, consumption of liquid amino acids is better in this case. So, they will be absorbed quicklier. It requires more time and energy from digestive tract for protein to break up into amino acids; what, in a sense, means you work out while eating. And this is kind of tough to do. So, I think that the best solution is to consume liquid carbs and amino acids during working out.

If your purpose is not loosing weight then the ideal drink taken during your working out is a combintion of juice, amino acids and water. If your goal is loosing weight then your drink is the same combination excluding juice. In this case, carbs is to be substituted with a neurostimulator such as coffeine.

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About the Author

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Olga Salimova is a personal trainer with figuring competition experience and a soul founder of Wild West Fit Tours. She enjoys sport, art, poetry, cooking.

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