For Athletes, High Protein=Less Endurance
For years, athletes followed the conventional wisdom of loading up on carbs before a big meet. Then, with the advent of Atkins, some coaches began preaching the Holy Grail of high protein. While scientific findings back the carb-performance link the high-protein claims have remained anecdotal.
To find out the truth, New Zealand researchers specifically compared cyclists on high-protein vs. high-carbohydrate meals, and found that the high-carb bikers burned rubber faster by as much as 17%.
Why? Probably because the high-carb cyclists had more readily available fuel, and thus were able to marshal more strength. What's more, cyclists on the high-protein meals reported more fatigue, headaches and gastrointestinal distress--all of which can slow athletes down.
Choosing healthy, complex carbohydrates like fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains can support your workout in more ways than one. In addition to burning energy stores, vigorous exercise can diminish electrolyte stores through profuse perspiration. One of those electrolytes--potassium--is plentiful in most produce (sources include spinach, bananas, squash and potatoes). As DNN readers will recall, calcium also escapes through perspiration. In order to avoid dehydration--and boost fitness results--drink plenty of water.
For more on what to eat if you're a cyclist, surfer, runner or yogi, check out our guide to "Anti-Injury Eating," as well as "Eating for Yoga." For what to avoid, see "Brew Blunts Blood Flow," for how caffeinated drinks constrict blood flow to the heart.