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07.11.2010


Low-carb sports drink with a little protein better for endurance athletes

Low-carb sports drink with a little protein better for endurance athletes
Endurance athletes perform better if they use sports drinks that contain fewer carbs and more proteins. A low-carb sports drink works well at a level of exertion that you can keep up for a long time, if you're an endurance athlete, say researchers at the University of Texas at Austin.

The product that the Texans tested is already on the market. It's Pure Sport, made by Human Performance Laboratories. [puresport.com] Pure Sport contains fewer carbohydrates than your average sports drink, and the carbohydrates it does contain have a low glycaemic index. That means they stop your insulin level from rising too much.

Instead, Pure Sport contains a whey hydrolysate: proteins cut into pieces, from whey. The table below shows the composition of an ordinary sports drink [CHO] and Pure Sport [MCP].


Low-carb sports drink with a little protein better for endurance athletes


The researchers got 15 experienced cyclists to cycle for 3 hours at an intensity that varied continually between 45 and 70 percent of their VO2max. After that the cyclists had to cycle to exhaustion by increasing the intensity of exercise gradually to 85 percent of their VO2max. On one occasion the cyclists were given 275 ml of an ordinary sports drink every 20 minutes, and on the other they were given the same amount of Pure Sport.

The athletes took slightly longer to reach exhaustion when they drank Pure Sports. The effect was not statistically significant. But what is interesting is that Pure Sport contains fewer calories than regular sports drinks.


Low-carb sports drink with a little protein better for endurance athletes


Some cyclists managed to reach a speed at which they exceeded their ventilatory threshold [VT], others didn't. The ventilatory threshold is the point at which athletes start to breathe exponentially deeper and faster during increasing exertion. The Pure Sport only improved the performance of the second group. So low carb sports drinks that contain protein work at “the exercise intensity at which prolonged endurance performance is often crucial”, according to the researchers.


Low-carb sports drink with a little protein better for endurance athletes


Why a sports drink containing fewer carbs and calories works better the researchers don't know. They suspect that a mixture of proteins and carbs stimulates the citric acid cycle better than pure sugars.

The research, which was funded by the manufacturer, is not only of interest to trained endurance athletes, but also to recreational athletes who use sports drinks, but find that many products contain too many calories.

Source:
J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Oct;24(10):2577-86.

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