20 Highlights From the Sports Nutrition Pros

Over 5,000 exercise scientists, sports dietitians, physicians and coaches gathered for the annual American College of Sports Medicine meeting in May 2008 to share their latest research in sports nutrition. Below are some of the sports nutrition highlights. Here are the 20 most significant highlights.


On Sports Snacks & Pre-exercise Foods


• Eating an energy bar just 15 minutes before you exercise is as effective as eating it an hour before. Grabbing fuel as you rush to your workout is a good idea that gets put to use.


• Natural sports snacks, like a granola bar or banana, offer a variety of sugars. But engineered foods might offer just one type of sugar. Because different sugars use different transporters to get into muscle cells, eating a variety of sugars enhances energy availability. In a 62-mile (100 km) time trial, cyclists who consumed two sugars (glucose + fructose) completed the course in 204 minutes; those who had just glucose took 16 additional minutes. The bottom line: eat a variety of foods with a variety of sugars during endurance exercise, such as sports drinks, tea with honey, gummi bears....


• Salty pre-exercise foods such as chicken noodle soup can make you thirsty and encourage you to drink more. This can reduce the risk of becoming dehydrated during hot weather.


On Recovery Foods


• A survey of 263 endurance athletes indicates they understand the importance of recovery after a hard workout. But they don’t know what to eat. They believe protein is the key to recovery. Wrong. Carbohydrate should really be the fundamental source of recovery fuel. Or better yet, enjoy a foundation of carbs with a little protein ... Chocolate milk!


• When exhausted cyclists were given a choice of recovery drinks, they all enjoyed—and tolerated well—the chocolate and vanilla milks, more so than water, sports drink or watery chocolate drink. Chocolate milk is familiar, readily available, and tastes good!


• How long do elite soccer players need to recover from a game? In one study, they needed five days for sprinting ability to return to pre-game level. That's four days longer than most athletes allow...


How Your Body Processes Food + Drink


• How many calories does a triathlete burn during the Hawaii Ironman? Using labeled water, researchers determined a 173 lb (78.6 kg) man burned 9,290 calories. Body water turnover was about four gallons (16.5 L), and weight dropped 7.5 percent. Muscle glycogen dropped by 68 percent.


• Fatigue is related to not only glycogen depletion and dehydration but also to body temperature higher than 104º F (40° C). Try to keep cool when exercising in hot weather!


• Have you ever wondered how long it takes for the water you drink to end up as sweat? Only 10 minutes (in trained cyclists). Ingested fluid moves rapidly, so don’t hesitate to keep drinking even towards the end of an event.

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