Carbohydrate ingestion during exercise: time to rethink its role?

The effect of carbohydrate (CHO) ingestion on performance during prolonged exercise has been investigated in a number of studies. The majority of published papers show a positive effect. Does this fact mean that CHO ingestion during exercise is beneficial to exercise performance under all conditions? Is this effect due to biological advantage?

Nassif and colleagues from the School of Human Movement Studies, Charles Sturt University, Australia, published a nice study in 2008 that questions the value of CHO ingestion during exercise.
What they did?
Nine well trained athletes with VO2max 65.8 ml/kg/min cycled at 70% of VO2max until volitional fatigue under three experimental conditions while
  • ingesting placebo capsules with distillated water (PLAc),
  • ingesting CHO capsules with distillated water (CHOc),
  • ingesting CHO capsules with distillated water whilst both researchers and athletes knew that CHO were being consumed (CHOk).
What they found?
  • Exercise duration was similar between PLAc and CHOc
  • Exercise duration was 24% longer in CHOk compared with PLAc
Take-home message
  • The ingestion of carbohydrate capsules did not improve performance under these experimental conditions.
  • Knowledge of the ingested ergogenic substance may improve performance. “Coaches and trainers of endurance athletes should be aware that knowledge of the performance enhancement supplement may have a significant psychological effect on endurance performance” (Nassif et al., 2008). 
Nassif et al. Double blind carbohydrate ingestion does not improve exercise duration in warm humid conditions. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 2008; 11: 72-79.

Trainers reveal secrets of Gleison Tibau’s fight night weight gain

Trainers reveal secrets of Gleison Tibau’s fight night weight gain

Gleison Tibau is a massive UFC lightweight who weighs 181 pounds on fight night. How does he put on 26 pounds in the space of 24 hours? The guys responsible for his physical conditioning, trainers Stefane Dias and Everton Bittar, have their methods.


“Stefane Dias started this whole procedure with Gleison about five years ago,” Bittar told MMA Fighting. “I developed a job at American Top Team in conjunction with Stefane Dias, we have the same line of work. There is a principle in sports training called ‘biological individuality,’ in which we must respect and create the camps individually.

“In Tibau’s case, Stefane started and worked for several years creating strategies for him to lose the necessary weight — and have an adequate intake for his fights — and I’ve been following through on this work without making radical changes. The athlete is used to all this work so our goal is to increasingly seek the best in each physical ability. Every fight we work is an analysis, and after his fight with Jamie Varner, we sat down to see what we could improve.”

Tibau fought Varner at UFC 164 in the 155-pound division on Aug. 31. On Monday, four days before the weigh-ins, the Brazilian still needed to lose more than 20 pounds. Everything is programmed, and they never feared he wouldn’t be able to lose that much in four days.

With the help of American Top Team’s nutritionist Leopoldo Leao, Tibau hit the scale at 155 on the nose at the weigh-ins on Aug. 30. The next day, Tibau defeated Varner via unanimous decision, improving his UFC record to 13-7.

“He was around 181 on fight night,” says Bittar. “This recovery is controlled, so we get him on a weight that won’t affect his performance, but it can change depending on his opponent.”

The heavier the better? Not exactly.

“We never try to get him the heaviest possible on fight night,” he says, “because we’ve been through situations in the past where he was very swollen due to excess serum sodium and its weight was almost 186, and this has negatively affected his movement inside the cage.”

Losing 20 pounds in four days isn’t easy, but the American Top Team trainers reveal the secret.

“During the fight week, he works on the technical part with striking coach Luciano ‘Macarrao’ and jiu-jitsu coach Marcos da Matta, but also maintenance the aerobic workouts to help weight loss together with a dietary restriction of solid foods and an increase in fluid intake ranging from six to eight liters per day (distilled water) — or water with zero percent sodium — for a period of two days after gradually reducing the water,” Dias said. “This causes the body to eliminate more water and not retain anything in the moments prior to weighing.”

As soon as Tibau hits the scale at 155, he starts to get the water back into his body.

“After this brief recovery, he eats light food which is quickly absorbed, like bananas, grapes, fruit salad, as well as Vitamin Water or Gatorade,” Dias says. “The weigh-in usually occurs late into the night and the athlete is already semi-recovered. We continue with the intake of low-fat foods that are rich in carbohydrates every two hours, and also make shakes with added glutamine, dextrose, maltodextrin and vitamins to obtain a super compensation carbohydrate and assist in performance the athlete. We also add calcium pills, potassium and magnesium due to dehydration to avoid cramps on fight time.”

Dias and Bittar explain that Tibau has done this procedure for five years, so he already knows how his body will react to the changes and when it’s time to stop. It’s common to see fighters dehydrate using sauna and hot tubs, but they explain that that shouldn’t be the only way to lose weight.

“We’ve seen several other athletes losing a lot of weight in a short period only with saunas and hot tubs and it really hinders the recovery of the athlete and makes some athletes faint,” Bittar says. “In fact, the sauna is very dangerous to health. We will quote a recommendation from the American College of Sports Medicine: ‘you should never dehydrate an athlete for more than six percent of their body weight to not affect his performance. When the athlete loses more than 10 percent of his body weight with fluids only (dehydration), your chances of death are very high.'”

Ginseng: The Root Of Improving Athletic Performance?

Ginseng: The Root Of Improving Athletic Performance?

Learn how this supplement can benefit you as an endurance athlete.

Ginseng refers to a group of adaptogenic herbs from the plant family Araliacae. Commonly, ginseng refers to “true” ginseng (Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer), as well as a related plant called Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), or Eleuthero for short.

Panax ginseng root extracts have been used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for thousands of years as a tonic indicated for its beneficial effects on the central nervous system, protection from stress, anti-fatigue action, enhancement of sexual function, and acceleration of metabolism.

Siberian ginseng did not really come into the picture as a botanical remedy until the 20th century. Found in the northern regions of the former Soviet Union, the roots of Eleutherococcus senticosus were sought out as a cheaper substitute for the expensive Oriental ginsengs. Soviet researchers found Siberian ginseng to be an excellent tonic to enhance athletic performance as well as to strengthen the body during times of stress.

RELATED: Choosing And Using Performance Supplements

Several other “ginsengs” are used as adaptogenic tonics throughout the world; among them are Panaxquinquefolium (also known as American ginseng and with a rich history of use by Native Americans) and Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), sometimes called “Indian ginseng” (although not a true ginseng, but with a long history of medicinal use by Ayurvedic healers in India). American ginseng is the most similar to “true” (Panax) ginseng and is highly prized in the Orient, where it is thought to provide a “cooler” invigoration than the native Panax ginseng (considered “warming” by traditional Chinese healers).

In general, the various ginseng supplements available in the U.S. market are claimed to increase energy levels, relieve stress, enhance athletic performance, enhance immune system function, control blood sugar, improve mental function, and promote general well-being. In most of these functions, ginseng, whether Siberian, Panax, or one of the other varieties, is often termed an “adaptogen.”

An adaptogen is defined as a therapeutic and restorative tonic generally considered to produce a “balancing” effect on the body. The properties generally attributed to adaptogens are a non-specific increase in resistance to a wide range of stressors, including physical, chemical, and biological factors, as well as a “normalizing” action irrespective of the direction of the pathological changes. In general, an adaptogen can be thought of as a substance that helps the body deal with stress.

Some studies of ginseng extracts have shown benefits in increasing energy levels in fatigued subjects, while the majority of studies on ginseng as an athletic performance aid have shown no effect. The differences between study results may have been due, in part, to the fact that many commercially available ginseng supplements actually contain little or no ginseng at all — and many researchers often take it for granted that a given product selected off the shelf for study will actually contain what it claims. That’s not always a good assumption.

The clearest indication that a supplement contains something other than real ginseng is the price — ginseng root is a very expensive ingredient and “bargain” ginseng products may either not contain real or enough ginseng, or the active saponin compounds that are thought to deliver ginseng’s anti-fatigue and adaptogenic effects.

RELATED: Which Supplements Do Runners Need?

Siberian ginseng (Eleuthero), is not truly ginseng (it’s a shrub rather than a root) but it’s a close enough cousin to deliver some of the same energetic benefits. Eleuthero is also known as Ciwujia in popular sports products. The Siberian form of ginseng is generally a less expensive alternative to “true” Asian or Panax ginseng, though it may have more of a stimulatory effect rather than an adaptogenic effect (not necessarily a bad thing if you just need a boost). Often promoted as an athletic performance enhancer, eleuthero may also possess mild to moderate benefits in promoting recovery following intense exercise — perhaps due in part to an enhanced delivery of oxygen to recovering muscles.

Ashwagandha is an herb from India that is sometimes called “Indian ginseng” — not because it is part of the ginseng family, but to suggest similar energy-promoting and anti-stress benefits that are attributed to the more well-known Asian and Siberian ginsengs. Although there has been very little human research done on ashwagandha, herbalists and natural medicine practitioners often recommend the herb to combat stress and fatigue — and it does appear to be particularly suited to relaxation uses following stressful events.

Everything You Need To Know About Energy Gels

click here for full article Everything You Need To Know About Energy Gels

It wasn’t long ago that runners relied solely on water, sports drinks, and maybe some flat cola as their primary carbohydrate supplement during longer races such as half marathons and marathons. Luckily, our understanding of sports nutrition (specifically how glycogen is used during the marathon) has improved to the point that we now have a plethora of products to choose from, each designed to speed glycogen to our working muscles.

The problem these days is not in finding a glycogen delivery product, but rather in sorting through the myriad of possible choices and then developing a strategic nutrition strategy to ensure optimal fueling on race day.

More from Race Fueling Made Simple

In this article we outline how energy gels and other carbohydrate supplements work and help you understand when–and how often–you should be taking them to ensure maximum performance and optimal fueling on race day.

How They Work

Your body uses two primary sources of fuel to feed the muscles when you’re running — fat and carbohydrate. Fat is a largely abundant resource, but is broken down into usable energy slowly, making it an ineffective fuel source when running anything faster than about 60-70% of your VO2max (roughly equivalent to your aerobic threshold or marathon pace).

Therefore, your body relies on carbohydrate as its primary fuel source when racing. Generally, the faster you run, the greater the percentage of your fuel will come from carbohydrates. The problem with carbohydrate is that we can only store a limited amount in our muscles — even when you load up. Typically, we can store about 90 minutes of muscle glycogen when running at half marathon pace and about 2 hours worth when running at marathon pace. So, if you’re not an elite athlete, you’ll be running out of muscle glycogen long before you cross the finish line.

Simply speaking, energy gels are designed to replenish carbohydrate stores that are depleted when running. Sounds like energy gels are a savior, right?

Unfortunately, energy gels don’t provide a simple one-to-one replacement (something you won’t read on the label of your favorite gel) because the glycogen we ingest from gels doesn’t always make its way to the working muscles. So why use them?

Keeping your cool: strategies to improve football performance in hot conditions

Keeping your cool: strategies to improve football performance in hot conditions

Paul Laursen, Ph.D.
Performance Physiologist, High Performance Sport New Zealand
Adjunct Professor of Exercise Physiology, AUT University, New Zealand
 Thanks to Dr Nassis for the invitation to write a guest post. What I’ll present herein are some facts around performance in the heat, along with some practical strategies we can use to improve a player’s performance and the effectiveness of play in such conditions. To begin, we should note that a hot environment is typically defined as an ambient/environmental temperature greater than 28°C.  As noted by Tyler and colleagues (2013) in the most recent review on the topic, the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be held in Qatar, where the conditions are expected to exceed 40°C, so optimising cooling strategies has been highlighted as a research priority by a FIFA-endorsed panel of experts (Grantham et al. 2010). It’s important therefore that collectively we are aware of the issues and strategies that can improve our player’s football performance and well being in the heat.
Scientific background – Why do we get hot?
Remember that when we do any form of exercise, we convert our stored food energy (carbs and fat) into the mechanical energy needed for movement. This is a relatively inefficient process, whereby 75% of that energy conversion gets turned into heat. When it’s cold out, that a good thing, as that metabolism keeps our body temperature up and processes working efficiently at the right temperature. But when exercise intensity is raised, and environmental temperature/humidity is high, the resultant can be a rate of heat gain that is greater than one’s ability to lose the heat, leading to an increased core temperature. Normal core temperature sits around 37°C, and a typical exercising temperature is around 38°C. Interestingly, our brain doesn’t typically let us exercise too much past 39-40°C. Studies show that once we get in this range, the brain sends stern signals for our body to reduce its efforts or stop altogether. And that’s a good thing because it recognizes the grave danger beyond this point, including the possibility of death at just 43°C.
So the reduced performance that happens when we exercise in the heat is a protective mechanism. Our brain is saying to us, you’re producing too much heat, and we need to reduce that intensity or you’re going to harm us.  This happens subconsciously. Despite our desire to go harder, our brain just won’t let us.  Everyone experiences this reduced work rate, even the very best players out there – they just might experience less of a decline due to their efficient use of energy, leanness, and greater ability to rid the heat.
But that begs the question; if performance is key, what can we do to better football performance for our players in hot conditions?  The key practical points include heat acclimation, keeping cool before and during exercise, and shortening the warm-up.
Heat acclimatization
It’s always about the preparation. So it’s probably not surprising that heat acclimatization is the most important thing you can do to better your performance in hot conditions. This means training in hot conditions in the days preceding the event in question. About the minimum you can get away with is 4 days, and an optimal time is considered to be more like 10 days, or longer if you can afford it.  In these sessions, you should be aiming to get hot during training for time periods ranging from 45-90 minutes or longer per day, depending on the fitness of your players/club. Sitting in a sauna (20-40 min) post-training is a good alternate method if a hot training environment isn’t possible.
As you spend accumulative days in the heat, for each consecutive day, your player’s heart rate and core temperature tends to be lower for a given exercise intensity, and sweat rates are higher. One of the main things going on in the body to cause this to occur is a rise in the water portion of your blood, called your plasma volume. So exercise feels easier, and players perform better after a number of days in the heat.
Cooling methods
You may have heard before that we’re comprised of about 60% water (we’re a water bath). So anything small we can do to either start cooler, or slow down the process of getting hot, tends to be conducive to bettering our exercise performance. Tyler et al. (2013) just published a meta-analysis on the topic in BJSM, and importantly showed that intermittent and prolonged exercise are improved with various cooling methods. Another recent review by Jones and colleagues (2012) highlight a number of effective ways you can go about lowering your body temperature before and during exercise, including cold water baths, hanging out in air conditioned rooms, wearing ice jackets, or drinking cold fluids or ice slushies. The main way these methods work is by increasing the amount of heat one can store before attainment of those aforementioned critical core temperatures. While all of these methods have shown some success, the only one that is usually of any practical benefit is the drinking of cold fluids and ice slushy concoctions before and during the game (Jones et al., 2012).
Figure 1. Likely mechanism of ice slushies effect on thermoregulation.

Ice slushy/cold fluid ingestion

The ingestion of cold fluids and ice slushy prior to exercise in the heat has received much interest of late. Siegel et al. (2010) were the first to show how the ingestion of 7.5 g/kg (~500-600 ml) 30 min before running in the heat at threshold, significantly increased run time by 19%, or about 10 min compared with drinking cold (4°C) fluids. For any given time point, subjects felt cooler and perceived the exercise as easier. The authors speculated that it was added heat removal from the phase change (solid ice to liquid water) that created the additional heat sink and cooler temperatures.  Another interesting finding from this study was that final core temperature was about 0.3°C higher at exercise completion, suggestive of the fact that the ingestion of ice slushy may exert its effect of improving exercise in the heat through the lowering of brain temperature, which could occur conductively due to the proximity of the mouth to the brain and associated arteries (Figure 1; Siegel & Laursen, 2012).
Due to both its effectiveness and practicality, ice slushy ingestion is a good means of precooling athletes prior to and during (i.e., at half time) exercise in the heat. It has been shown to be just as effective as cold water immersion (Siegel et al., 2012), and it is much easier to implement compared with cold plunge baths and ice jackets. Plus, you gain the added hydration effects once the ice turns to water.
Shorten your warm-up
Undoubtedly, some form of warm-up is going to better your football performance. However, when it’s hot out, you run the risk of over-heating during your warm-up and storing too much of this heat before the game. Remember that starting at a lower body temperature will lower the time it will take for you to reach those critical, or very high core temperatures. Thus, if the temperature is hot, consider cutting your typical warm-up time in half.
You’re going to get hot playing football this summer. The things you can do to improve your football performance in hot conditions include training in the heat in the days leading up to the competition (heat acclimatization), cooling yourself before the game and at half time using cold fluid or ice slushies, and shortening your warm-up. Remember that the coaches and support staff can get hot and bothered too, so similar advice holds true for the entire team to allow the best collective performance.
Take home points
1) Prepare your team by training in the heat in the days leading into competition in hot environments (i.e., 4-10 days our, or longer). A 20-40 min sauna post-training is a good alternate method of heat acclimating if you can’t train directly in the heat.
2) Get players to ingest about 7.5 g/kg (500ml) of ice slushy drink or ice cold fluids in the 30-40 min period prior to the game. This will allow them to be cooler before play (ice slushy lowers core temperature by about 0.3-0.5°C).
3) Abbreviate your warm-up duration and intensity by about 50%.
4) Drink another 300 ml (to thirst) of ice slushy during the half time break to get another small reduction in body heat content.
Follow this advice and keep your cool!

Coconut water — lies, rumours & the bottom line for athletes looking for hydration alternatives

click here for video and article Coconut water — lies, rumours & the bottom line for athletes looking for hydration alternatives


Looking to wet your whistle with something lighter than coconut milk? Want to hang with all the hot celebrities? Consider coconut water. At least that’s the public image of this massively popular pseudo-sports drink at this point. Heck, it’s even popping up as an add-in for gourmet coffee as an alternative to dairy. But what’s the real nutrition story behind this buzz-worthy beverage?

If you popped a straw inside an immature (green) coconut, the liquid you would be sipping would be coconut water, the mega drink that has enjoyed the backing of the likes of Madonna and Rihanna. While coconut water can be enjoyed straight from a coconut, the image of getting on the subway with a large brown-husked fruit lacks a certain convenience; hence, the introduction of cans and tetra-packs, which have become vehicles for sales that have been said to have exceeded US$350-million a year. Coconut water can now be found in health food, grocery, and convenience stores alike.  It’s everywhere.


The affection for coconut water comes from several areas: Not only is it a low-calorie beverage, usually ranging between 30 to 70 calories per serving, but it is also said to be rich in potassium (providing approximately 17%, or 600 mg, of your daily value for this key nutrient that plays a role in blood pressure control and possibly athletic performance). In a world where added sugars, artificial colours and sodium are persona non grata, many athletes like to feel that they are fuelling their bodies with something natural.


In the first known study to compare a traditional sports drink to coconut water, coconut water proved just as effective for rehydrating treadmill runners who had undergone a 90-minute run designed to cause dehydration vs. a traditional sports drink or plain water, while another study suggests coconut water may be better tolerated (meaning it causes less nausea and stomach upset), when consumed after intense exercise.


HandoutO.N.E. brand coconut water, owned by Pepsi, didn’t live up to all the claims on its nutrition label, Jennifer Sygo writes. Other brands made outright dubious claims that were settled after class action lawsuits in the U.S.

Unfortunately, that’s the extent of the research to date, and when it comes to prolonged activity (two hours or more), the carbohydrates in coconut water fall short:.While it’s recommended athletes aim for four to eight grams of carbohydrates per 100 mL of fluid, coconut water provides just nine grams of carbohydrates per 250 mL, or 3.6 grams of carbohydrates per 100 mL. In other words, its sugar content is less than an athlete would need to keep them from running out of gas during a marathon, soccer tournament or long day of cycling. Its sodium content is also relatively low, which could also be an issue for heavy sweaters or for athletes exercising in hot weather.


In August 2011, Consumer Labs published a report that, among three major U.S. brands of coconut water — Vita Coco (distributed through the Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc.), O.N.E. Coconut Water (purchased by Pepsi in 2010) and Zico Natural (scooped up by Coke in 2009 for $15 million) — only Zico Natural lived up to its labelling claims for sugar, sodium, potassium and magnesium. VitaCoco, which boasts Demi Moore and Madonna as investors, contained only 64% of the magnesium claimed on its labels, while O.N.E. contained only 77%, and both were off the mark for their sodium content. As a result of the report, a class action lawsuit was launched against Vita Coco, who agreed, in a settlement, to change its packaging, improve quality control and remove comparisons to sports drinks, including statements claiming that Vita Coco contains “15 times the potassium found in leading sports drinks.”


While coconut water’s taste qualities vary by brand, its taste is distinct, and not always well-liked. As a result, an increasing number of coconut water blends are available, often with higher amounts of sugar, and diminishing amounts of coconut water. So reading the fine print is essential here, and that includes the ingredients list.


If coconut water actually contains what it is supposed to, then it can be used as a sports drink for shorter bouts of activity. Unfortunately, the research on coconut water for health or performance is extremely limited, and when combined with the industry’s spotty labelling history, this is still a case of buyer beware.

Sports Drinks: Separating fact from fiction

link to article Sports Drinks: Separating fact from fiction

Gatorade, Powerade, Accelerade, Lucozade, Sqwincher, EFS, Recharge, All Sport, Levelen… as you can see there are endless sports drinks on the market. These drinks say they can increase performance, decrease cramping, and speed recovery. What does the research say?

Pre-activity sports drinks

There are numerous pre-activity sports drinks on the market that claim they improve performance through numerous methods including increased energy, maintaining hydration, and adding to carbohydrate stores. Let’s look at the main components, (caffeine, carbohydrates) and see what the research shows.


We all know how that our morning cup of coffee helps start the day off on the right foot. But does it help to run faster or cycle longer? A 2012 article in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research showed “that acute ingestion of a caffeine-containing energy drink can enhance resistance exercise performance to failure and positively enhance psychophysiological factors related to exertion in trained men.”

There are numerous articles that support the use of caffeine performance enhancing supplement. Keep in mind that more is not better when it comes to caffeine and there can be negative side effects of excessive caffeine consumption. So please speak with your physician or a nutritionist about how much caffeine is safe and effective. And for NCAA athletes please consult your school’s athletic trainer as you can test positive if you’re over a certain limit.


Carbohydrates are thought to have a role in pre-, during, and post-exercise performance and recovery. Pre-activity carbohydrates are thought to top off one’s energy stores. A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2013 showed that pre-activity “sports drinks allow higher stroke frequency during play, with decreased rates of perceived exertion” in tennis players.

What we don’t know is what is the optimal amount of carbohydrates and where do we get them from. Is there one drink that’s better than another or can we just get them from a healthy pre-activity snack? There is also concern for how an athlete feels eating and drinking prior to activity. Will it make them feel bloated? Can they tolerate a sports drink but not an energy bar? The general guideline is to have some form of carbohydrates pre-activity that your GI system can tolerate well.

During Activity Drinks

These can be broken down into two categories: energy replacement through carbohydrates and electrolyte replacement to limit cramping and dehydration.


Carbohydrates during activity are thought to supplement the body’s energy stores helping to maintain performance levels over longer periods of exercise. A 2011 article in the Journal of Sports Sciences recommends “Carbohydrate intake during exercise should be scaled according to the characteristics of the event. During sustained high-intensity sports lasting about 1 hour, small amounts of carbohydrate, including even mouth-rinsing, enhance performance via central nervous system effects.

While 30-60 grams per hour is an appropriate target for sports of longer duration, events greater than 2.5 hours may benefit from higher intakes of up to 90 grams per hour.”  Once again, the type and amount of carbohydrates is still unknown with recommendations of what the athlete tolerates from a GI perspective being most important.


What causes cramping in athletes?  Is it dehydration, sodium loss, or something else?  An article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine 2013 states “Significant and serious hypohydration (dehydration) with moderate electrolyte losses does not alter cramp susceptibility when fatigue and exercise intensity are controlled. Neuromuscular control may be more important in the onset of muscle cramps than dehydration or electrolyte losses.”

For cramping, the majority of sports drinks are isotonic or hypotonic meaning they have the same or fewer electrolytes than what is in your body normally. So not only do these drinks not replace lost electrolytes but they can pull electrolytes out of the body. Exceptions to this are sports drinks like Levelen that are based off of sweat testing and replace specific electrolytes lost by the individual.

So what’s the bottom line? For the average athlete who is working out for 60 minutes or less water is just fine. If it’s greater than 60 minutes or in a hot and humid environment, a sports drink comprising of both carbohydrates and electrolytes may be beneficial. Otherwise, these sports drinks tend to be nothing more than empty calories.

Post-activity Drinks

Post activities drinks are comprised mainly of carbohydrates and protein. The goal is to replenish what is lost immediately post-exercise.  It is assumed that this helps in recovery.  However, two studies dispute this common thought process.

A 2006 study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness showed that “supplementation with a sports drink during recovery showed a significant short-term subjective positive effect compared with placebo. However, no effects were seen on physical performance or signs of overtraining.”

Another study in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism 2008 concluded that ”consuming a carbohydrate + protein or carbohydrate beverage immediately after novel eccentric exercise failed to enhance recovery of exercise-induced muscle injury differently than what was observed with a placebo drink.” What we thought was common knowledge regarding carbohydrate replacement post exercise may not be backed up by science.

Pre-activity, caffeine can have positive benefit and one should have some sort of carbohydrates 30-60 minutes before activity. During activity, most people are fine with just water unless you’re competing for greater than 60 minutes, are in a hot and humid environment, or are prone to cramping. Lastly, for post-activity recovery you can probably skip the protein drink and just head home for a healthy well balanced meal.