Grass carp peptides boost stamina
Nutritionists at South China University of Technology are doing animal tests on proteins and peptides not commonly used by athletes. According to their research, which has been published in Nutrition, proteins and peptides from grass carp boost endurance capacity.
Fish & fatigue
In China they say that fish fights fatigue. If this is true, scientists think it's the proteins in fish that are responsible. These may boost the activity of the enzymes that deactivate harmful compounds. The researchers wanted to test this theory so they set up an experiment using muscle protein from the freshwater Ctenopharyngodon idellus, or grass carp, a fish eaten regularly in the Far East.
The researchers bought carp on the local market and made a protein powder from the filleted fish. They treated part of the powder with the enzyme alcalase, which cuts proteins up into peptides. The protein and peptides were then given to mice for a period of 4 weeks.
The researchers subjected the mice to a training programme in which the animals had to swim for a progressively longer amount of time. Half hour before putting the mice in the water the researchers pumped proteins or peptides through a tube into the mice's stomach.
A control group also swam, but was not given proteins or peptides. One experimental group got 1 g protein/kg bodyweight/day, and a second group was given five times this amount. Yet another experimental group got 1 g peptides/kg bodyweight/day, and another group was given five times this amount.
After 4 weeks the researchers made the mice swim to the point of exhaustion. The mice that had been given proteins and peptides swam for longer than the others. The control group managed to swim for about three hours, whereas the mice that had been given the high dose of peptides swam for about five hours.
After the last test the researchers examined the mice and found that the proteins and peptides had indeed boosted the activity of superoxide-dismutase and catalase. But a more important mechanism was probably that the proteins and the peptides had dramatically boosted the synthesis of glycogen in the liver.
The researchers didn't compare the performance-enhancing effect of fish peptides and proteins with that of other peptides and proteins, such as those based on whey or soya. We're not expecting the Chinese to do comparative studies either. Asians rarely do comparative research. It doesn't fit in their creative but cautious research culture. Western researchers are more likely to do a comparative study.
And if Western studies do show that fish preparations work better than conventional protein supplements, endurance athletes may well have an interesting new supplement to add to their choice.
Nutrition. 2011 Jul-Aug;27(7-8):789-95.
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