Active folks who already incorporate a sports drink in their regimen should include Accelerade brand sports drink as a part of their hydration program and in preparation for, and recovery from, the rigors of training and competition. Where all of the other sports drinks consist strictly of carbohydrates, Accelerade includes carbohydrates and protein – in a ratio of 4:1. Accelerade’s position is that the inclusion of protein in their sports drink speeds the movement of carbs into muscle tissue and as a result provides rapid hydration, provides much needed energy and help muscles to recover faster after exercise.
Accelerade has rankled the big guy on the block – Gatorade – with the claim of having devised a better energy and recovery formula. As a matter of fact Gatorade, while evaluating whether or not to develop their own protein-added product, paid for a study to be done by researchers at Canada’s McMaster University to determine if claims that protein can serve to boost performance during exercise. The researchers involved in the McMaster study concluded that protein doesn’t have a direct effect on endurance performance, but concedes that protein should be consumed after exercise to aid the body’s recovery process.
It appears that Gatorade took this step since researchers at James Madison University found that the protein-added Accelerade out performed Gatorade with regard to both endurance and recovery. The Accelerade people are touting another study performed at the University of Texas that seems to back up the “protein-added is better” claim. Quite frankly there is an awful lot of research out there on this subject that supports the claims of both sides of this argument. And there are an awful lot of people out there who still feel that all an athlete needs for energy and recovery is to drink water. And all of these folks have a point, to a point. But since I’m not on anyone’s side and all I care about is helping people reach their potential, I’m here to give you a little does of common sense and support the reasons for my recommendation to include Accelerade products as a part of a hydration/recovery routine.
To give you an idea as to how much I believe Accelerade, I will take well over $100 out of my own pocket this year to buy these products for the high school football team that I coach and where I am also the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach. The problem with a lot of the sports drink studies is that the subjects are basically cyclists and runners and that people who lift weights or engage in contact/combat sports haven’t been studied.
Of the 16 studies that Accelerade provides as support for their claims half of them involve cyclists; the other seven involve swimming, running, skiing and soccer; and one involves hockey, the only contact sport in the group. The Gatorade/McMaster study involved cyclists as well. I don’t need to tell you that lifting weights, playing football, wrestling and working out with kettlebells place a different set of demands on the body than do these other sports/activities, especially cyclists. If you’re the type of person who wants to see proof from research, you can find plenty of it on either side of the issue and as a result you’ll want to bang your head against a wall as a result of all of the conflicting data.
So here’s some common sense that may help you see your way through this issue. There is no arguing that protein is vital to the development and maintenance of muscle, and there has been a sizable amount of research that has been done to indicate that ingesting protein prior to and/or immediately following rigorous training or competition results in greater muscle protein balance for both resistance-based and endurance-based exercise.
Protein is a building block of muscle tissue, so how could the Accelerade products that include carbohydrates and protein in an appropriate ratio NOT be valuable or better than carb-only products? Resistance training and contact/combat activities place demands on the body that require both different means of preparation and different needs of recovery. Even if some of these other products are better for cyclists and distance runners and soccer players, this does not mean that they are better for everyone. But I’ll bet you already figured that out. And if you are of the “all you need is water” school of thought, you need to update your thinking.
Water is vital, and it must be the cornerstone of any hydration program. But as an energy source or as an aid to recovery after extreme bouts of training or competition, water needs some help, and that help can come from Accelerade. We’re not replacing the effects of water with Accelerade we’re assisting them. At the same time Accelerade – or any other products of this kind – must be used in conjunction with water and food.
These products are supplements and should be used as such. This is why recreational athletes, weekend warriors and competitive athletes all need to follow a hydration and nutrition program that incorporates the fundamentals of diet along with the advances that have been made in the field of sports nutrition. No matter what your activity of choice is, Accelerade should be part of your hydration and recovery program.