by Jeanne Ricks, CHC www.NuDay.org
Although protein in sports drinks may not improve athletic performance specifically, there might be other benefits.
You know very well that muscle soreness is a common result of exercise. For the most part it’s mild, and you feel it shortly after your workout is completed (if not during your workout) and lasting no longer than a day or two. But sometimes your pain level hits a ten on a scale of 10 ~ it’s intense, and when it’s intense it is nearly always delayed, emerging the morning after the workout and lasting as long as 3 or 4 days.
This soreness actually has a name!! Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), this infrequent type of pain happens after your workouts that are unusually long or intense.
Studies that have shown that eating precise types of protein or amino acids close to finishing exercise governs both your protein synthesis rates and chronic accrual of lean tissue mass.
Post-workout, your body needs help from its good friend protein in order to repair body tissue and start the process of building stronger, more resilient muscles. Recent studies suggest taking in around 20 grams of high-quality protein within 30 minutes after exercise can give your body the nutrients it needs to start recovery and prevent important muscle loss.
And guess what? Just your overall diet can also reduce the amount of muscle soreness you experience. The majority of the muscle damage that occurs both during and after runs is caused by free radicals.
Free-radicals are simply the by-products of your normal metabolism. As your body uses oxygen, the cells at the molecular level will occasionally have a reactive atom or group of atoms that has one or more unpaired, short-lived (junk) electron or free radicals. These by-products or junk can cause oxidative damage to the cells of your body. You see examples of this same oxidation around you all the time. It’s the reason a freshly cut apple will turn brown or metal will rust – this is the same culprit.
Free radicals get elevated from smoking, pollution, poisons and fried foods.
"Antioxidants" such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E and carotenes will reduce damage caused by free radicals. This means that when your diet is rich in antioxidants it will strengthen your internal defenses against exercise-induced free-radical damage.
The best sources of dietary antioxidants are, of course, fresh fruits and vegetables. Getting plenty of essential fats will further protect your muscles against free-radical damage during and after exercise by strengthening muscle cell membranes. Most of us don’t get enough of the Omega-3 class of essential fats. You can easily improve this problem by increasing your consumption of cold-water fish, raw nuts, and flaxseeds, and/or by taking an Omega-3 supplement.
Having protein after exercise can also help. It won’t reduce your muscle soreness, but it will reduce the negative effects of muscle damage on your ability to exercise the next day. Evidence for this comes from a 2008 study conducted at the University of Brighton, England. The experiment subjects performed sets of machine leg extensions to test their muscle strength before and twice more after running downhill to induce muscle damage and soreness. On one run the subjects consumed protein immediately after the downhill run. On another run they consumed a placebo. Markers of muscle damage and ratings of perceived soreness were identical in both trials, but whereas the subjects lost a lot of strength after the downhill run that was not followed by protein ingestion, they performed just as well in the post-run leg extensions test after protein ingestion as they did before the run.
So consider taking-in around 20 grams of high-quality protein within 30 minutes after exercise. This might be a handful of raw nuts, ¼ organic chicken breast, an organic hard-boiled egg or our great tasting Pure Green Protein drink.