Why Protein Should NOT Be In Your Sports DrinkIndependent Research Shows No Benefit
By Mike Mathewson
Much has been written about the pros and cons of including protein in sports drinks designed to be used during athletic activity. The makers of Accelerade have even gone so far as to claim that they have found the optimum ratio of carbohydrate to protein to be 4:1. Fortunately there have been numerous independent studies that have consistently shown NO benefit of protein in your sports drink (see studies below). It's important to note that we are talking about drinks that are used immediately before and/or during athletic activity. Recovery drinks that are used after your workout are a completely different category and protein in these drinks has been shown to be beneficial.
Why Not Protein?
When you are performing aerobic activity the blood supply to your stomach is shut down so that more blood can be supplied to your working muscles. You want as much blood as possible routed to your muscles to supply fresh oxygen for the energy conversion process. More blood means more oxygen which translates into higher performance. Anything you do to take blood away from your muscles is completely counterproductive to athletic performance.
The problem with protein is that it has to go through a digestive process which requires your blood to be re-routed back to the stomach and intestines. This reduces the amount of oxygen rich blood available to your muscles, thus impacting performance. Protein is also known to inhibit gastric emptying, thus slowing the slowing rehydration and possibly causing "sloshing" and stomach discomfort. Drinks without protein, fats or fiber are able to be absorbed through osmosis, thus eliminating the digestive processes and associated blood requirements.
The Better Solution?
You should look for sports drinks with high levels of complex carbohydrates, low simple sugar levels and NO protein (see related article Simple Sugars Can Hurt Performance). Here is a run down of the top sports drinks:
Sports Drink Comparison
But don't take my word for it, read some of the studies for yourself:
American College of Sports Medicine
>> Failure of Protein to Improve Performance when Added to a Sports Drink
>> Protein-added Sports Drinks Don't Boost Performance
>> Sports Drink with Protein No Better for Endurance