Over the past few years, research has been done that shows that sport drinks that include carbohydrates and protein in their formulas, such as Accelerade, are more effective than the carb-only varieties and can improve performance and aid in recovery. New research shows that both men and women can enjoy the same benefits by consuming carb-protein gel.
The August 2007 edition of the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research features a study performed at James Madison University’s Human Performance Laboratory which found that carbohydrate-protein gel improves endurance performance and can prevent post-exercise muscle damage, and does so better than carb-only gels.
Until this study, only sports drinks with this carb-protein formulation had been studied, and only men had been the subjects of these studies. This James Madison study is the first to look at the effects of carb-protein gel and to include women in the mix.
The gels in the study had a 7.3% carbohydrate concentration, which is the same concentration of the beverages that have been studied previously. The carb-protein gel contained 25% more calories from protein than did the carb-only gel. The gel was given to the subjects every 15 minutes after the start of exercise and was followed by a more substantial dose with 30 minutes after the ride ended.
The group in this study was made up of 13 recreation-level competitive cyclists who performed a ride to exhaustion at 75% of peak oxygen consumption. This peak value is consistent with the level reached by recreational athletes. Testing to the point of exhaustion at this level of oxygen consumption ensured that intramuscular levels of glycogen would be totally depleted, and allowed the researchers to study the effectiveness of the gel while providing a direct comparison to other recent research that dealt with carb-protein drinks.
The cyclists who used the carb-protein gel performed 13% longer than did the subjects who used the carb-only gel, which is in line with a recent study done on carb-protein beverages. Allowing for the difference in how men and women metabolize these substances, the researchers found preliminary evidence (due to a small sample size) that women benefited equally from the carb-protein mix.
The researchers qualify their findings with regard to the post-exercise benefits of carb-protein gel and state that despite preliminary findings that this formula was effective at preventing muscle damage, a sample size of 50 subjects is needed to really prove such a benefit.
All in all the findings of this study provide more support for the use of sport drinks and energy gels that contain the carb-protein formula. Weekend warriors, recreational athletes and anybody who exercises should consider including products such as Accelerade as part of their program.