INDIANAPOLIS – For athletes, carbohydrates are often go-to foods when preparing for long-distance or intense exercise. A report released today by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) identifies a new nutrition option for endurance exercisers – protein.
The report, titled “Effect of Increased Dietary Protein on Tolerance to Intensified Training,” was published this month in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®, ACSM’s official scientific journal. A research study led by Kevin Tipton, Ph.D., examined the effects of increased protein intake on endurance performance.
“Endurance athletes – such as runners or cyclists – commonly rely on nutrition to enhance their post-exercise recovery,” said Dr. Tipton, a researcher with the University of Stirling in Scotland. “For years, athletes have relied heavily on carbohydrate feeding for recovery. However, we wanted to explore the benefits of protein.”
Eight endurance-trained cyclists completed two three-week trials, divided equally into normal, intensified and recovery training. During the intensified and recovery training sessions, cyclists were assigned either a normal or a high-protein diet. Cyclists consumed 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass in the normal diet and double that amount in the high-protein diet.
Results indicate that the high-protein diet not only improved athletes’ endurance performance slightly after intense training but also reduced their stress levels.
“Previous research has identified tyrosine, an amino acid found in protein, as a mood-booster,” said Dr. Tipton. “Whereas, we can’t definitively say why the athletes felt a bit better with higher protein intake, it’s possible the availability of tyrosine in our high-protein diet helped diffuse stress, thus contributing to the increase in performance.”
While the preliminary data are promising, the team hopes more research will be done to further explore the benefits of long-term protein feeding for athletes.
The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 40,000 international, national, and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise® is the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, and is available from Lippincott Williams & Wilkins at 1-800-638-6423. For a complete copy of the research paper (Vol. 43, No. 4, pages 598-607) or to speak with a leading sports medicine expert on the topic, contact the Department of Communications and Public Information at 317-637-9200 ext. 133 or 127. Visit ACSM online at www.acsm.org.
The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only, and should not be construed as an official statement of the American College of Sports Medicine.