The Effect of a Low Carbohydrate Beverage with Added Protein on Cycling Endurance Performance in Trained Athletes


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Abstract

Ferguson-Stegall, L, McCleave, EL, Ding, Z, Kammer, LM, Wang, B, Doerner, PG, Liu, Y, and Ivy, JL. The effect of a low carbohydrate beverage with added protein on cycling endurance performance in trained athletes. J Strength Cond Res 24(10): 2577-2586, 2010-Ingesting carbohydrate plus protein during prolonged variable intensity exercise has demonstrated improved aerobic endurance performance beyond that of a carbohydrate supplement alone. The purpose of the present study was to determine if a supplement containing a mixture of different carbohydrates (glucose, maltodextrin, and fructose) and a moderate amount of protein given during endurance exercise would increase time to exhaustion (TTE), despite containing 50% less total carbohydrate than a carbohydrate-only supplement. We also sought post priori to determine if there was a difference in effect based on percentage of ventilatory threshold (VT) at which the subjects cycled to exhaustion. Fifteen trained male and female cyclists exercised on 2 separate occasions at intensities alternating between 45 and 70% V̇o2max for 3 hours, after which the workload increased to ∼74-85% V̇o2max until exhaustion. Supplements (275 mL) were provided every 20 minutes during exercise, and these consisted of a 3% carbohydrate/1.2% protein supplement (MCP) and a 6% carbohydrate supplement (CHO). For the combined group (n = 15), TTE in MCP did not differ from CHO (31.06 ± 5.76 vs. 26.03 ± 4.27 minutes, respectively, p = 0.064). However, for subjects cycling at or below VT (n = 8), TTE in MCP was significantly greater than for CHO (45.64 ± 7.38 vs. 35.47 ± 5.94 minutes, respectively, p = 0.006). There were no significant differences in TTE for the above VT group (n = 7). Our results suggest that, compared to a traditional 6% CHO supplement, a mixture of carbohydrates plus a moderate amount of protein can improve aerobic endurance at exercise intensities near the VT, despite containing lower total carbohydrate and caloric content.

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