Nutrition: Fueling Your Brain For Running

Coffee may wake you up before a morning workout, but it boasts other performance benefits as well. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Protein

A series of studies led by Michael Saunders at James Madison University has shown that sports drinks containing a small amount of protein, which is not a traditional sports drink ingredient, along with the usual amount of carbohydrate are more effective than conventional sports drinks containing carbs and no protein. It is still not clear why this is so, but in a 2006 presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, Saunders revealed that the beneficial effect of protein on endurance performance is at least partly due to a reduction in perceived exertion.

One possibility is that ingesting protein with carbs during exercise increases amino acid levels in the blood. There is some evidence that elevated blood amino acids delay brain-based exercise fatigue. Another possibility is that ingesting protein during exercise reduces perceived exertion by reducing muscle damage. Carb-protein sports drinks are, in fact, proven to reduce muscle damage during exercise compared to carb-only sports drinks.

RELATED: The 10 Best Protein Sources For Runners

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About The Author:

Matt Fitzgerald is the author of numerous books, including Racing Weight: How To Get Lean For Peak Performance (VeloPress, 2012). He is also a Training Intelligence Specialist for PEAR Sports. To learn more about Matt visit www.mattfitzgerald.org.

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