Friday, June 6, 2008

Recovery Myth(busting)?

So, I read this article in the NY Times about the myth of consuming recovery nutrition products post-workout to speed up muscle recovery and boost physical performance. Could it be that I've been downing calories immediately post-workout for no good reason? Well, I guess yes and no.

The primary tidbits of new information that I got out of the article was that there's no magical 4:1 carb to protein ratio for post-workout calories and there's no magical time window to get those carbs ingested for maximal effect. Honestly, I never even knew that "magical" ratio existed. I just know that I'm friggin' famished after a hard workout. I just want to get down any calories after an intense exercise session. If I wait too long to eat, I get grumpy, tired, and often get a mild headache. Maybe getting those post-workout carbs don't improve my glycogen replenishment, but they sure as heck affect how I feel. Being low blood sugar for too long post-workout tends to really suck for me.

The article does make some statements about protein intake, which more or less fall in line with what I've read elsewhere. But the tone of article makes it seem like getting amino acids into the bloodstream soon after a workout doesn't have much effect:
"Although studies by Dr. Jeukendrup and several others have shown that consuming protein after exercise speeds up muscle protein synthesis, no one has shown that that translates into improved performance. The reason, Dr. Jeukendrup said, is that effects on performance, if they occur, won’t happen immediately. They can take 6 to 10 weeks of training. That makes it very hard to design and carry out studies to see if athletes really do improve if they consume protein after they exercise."
Well, all I have to say is: no duh! Most people aren't going to see noticeable improvements in the short term. It'll take several weeks (even months) for anyone to improve performance, unless they're a complete beginner having never done any exercise whatsoever before.

Then there's also the fact that the article seemed to very skewed towards running, which I guess is fair since it was discussing recovery nutrition in terms of athletic performance. Most athletes are after all required to run fast. I think I'll be sticking to the strength and body building nuggets of wisdom from T-Nation though. I'm more concerned with my total body strength than my running speed. I figure guys obsessed with physique and strength know a thing or two about protein consumption and building muscle. So, unless I read a more convincing article saying otherwise, I'm going to assume that getting my post-workout protein shake is still helping me more efficiently pack some more muscle on to my (admittedly lean) frame.

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