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Added Protein Gives Sports Drinks Extra Kick

Enhances performance and reduces muscle damage

FRIDAY, July 9, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Adding protein to conventional sports drinks improves athletic performance and reduces post-exercise muscle damage, says a study in the July issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

The James Madison University study compared Gatorade to a new protein-containing sports drink called Accelerade in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study with bicycle athletes.

The cyclists drank either Gatorade or Accelerade and then completed an endurance test until they were exhausted. The athletes returned 15 hours later for a second endurance test. At that time, researchers took blood samples to measure CPK, a primary marker of muscle damage.

Those who drank Accelerade had a 29 percent improvement in endurance in the first exercise test and a 40 percent improvement in the second test, compared to those who drank Gatorade. The athletes who drank Accelerade had an 83 percent decrease in muscle damage compared to Gatorade drinkers.

"This study provides further confirmation of the value of adding protein to a conventional carbohydrate electrolyte sports drink. Our results suggest that athletes in all sports, including running, cycling, soccer and tennis, where endurance and recovery are critical would benefit from a protein-containing sports drink such as Accelerade," principal investigator Mike Saunders, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at James Madison University, said in a prepared statement.

"Although we did not evaluate the impact of a carbohydrate-protein sports drink on everyday athletes and weekend warriors, the fact that Accelerade significantly reduced muscle damage would be a great advantage because muscle soreness is a frequent post-exercise complaint," Saunders said.

The study was conducted and funded by the School of Kinesiology and Recreation Studies at James Madison University.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has advice about sports nutrition.

SOURCE: Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, news release, July 7, 2004
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