Endurance sport nutrition and timing


Lots of work has gone into studying the food and drink that athletes consume. It is surely one of life’s most delicious ironies that as athletes we get to eat all the carbohydrates we want when all the people who want athlete’s bodies avoid them.


Perhaps one day someone will realize the blindingly obvious and teach people that it ain’t what you eat: it’s what you do.


A new book called, Nutrient Timing by John Ivy and Robert Portman, goes a step further and focuses on the timing of consumption. Although the book is largely aimed at power athletes there are five good rules that are applicable to endurance athletes:


1.      Consuming protein with carbohydrate during exercise can improve endurance. The conversion of carbohydrate to energy is limited by the processing speed of the liver: muscles however can also get energy from protein and studies have shown that the combination of the two can increase endurance by 36%.


2.      Consuming protein during exercise can reduce muscle damage. If protein is not consumed the muscle protein is broken down as a source of energy: taking in some protein prevents this.


3.      Eat as soon within 45 minutes of exercise. Most of us do this anyway but the reason is that there is a window where muscles are very insulin sensitive. During this period protein and glycogen synthesis is heightened thereby enabling more rapid muscle recovery.


4.      After exercise nutrition reduces the chance of injury and sickness. Some new research conducted on US Marines showed some staggering results: those receiving a carbohydrate/protein supplement after every training session had remarkably less instances of health or injury problems.


5.      Post exercise nutrition improves subsequent performance. Logically if post exercise consumption of a carbohydrate/protein mix improves recovery it is likely to improve the next performance. This has in fact been proved by several recent studies.