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Protein Enriched Sports Drinks – Muscle Performance Enabler or Unwanted Caloric Booster?

Thursday, January 20, 2011
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Protein enriched sports drinks - Muscle performance enabler or unwanted caloric booster?

That the carbs in the sports drink aids performance is well proven but for many years researchers have contemplated enriching the carbohydrate drink with 'protein.'

Adding protein sounds sensible and simple - But, is it?

Energy drinks fuel the body instantly by keeping the blood glucose levels steady and permit the body to face physical challenges for longer durations without compromising the intensity. But some sports enthusiasts ask - Since protein is what body muscles are essentially built with - wouldn't it be more logical to include it in the sports drink and reap that extra benefit?

The results vary with each aditional study that is conducted. Some trials have shown that protein enhanced sports drinks do infact assist the athlete, but these studies have also received their share of criticism as they were high in calories. The calories might be what enhanced the athlete's performance, not the protein added.

Several studies published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine have concluded that the addition of protein neither hampered nor enhanced an athletes' performance.

Dr. Asker Jeukendrup, a professor in the school of sport and exercise sciences at the University of Birmingham in England and senior author of the study, says "No one has a clue why protein would work" and we also know that "Protein is not a good fuel" so these results are not surprising as they do not provide us a conclusive answer.

Despite the lack of supportive evidence, the department of Exercise Physiology and Metabolism Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA believed protein can and may do something during the sport performance.



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User Comments

11 August, 2011 | Shashank | Reply

Shashank Is is good to drink only water or have fruit juices/Tender coconut water/milk shakes/whey protein shakes after a workout or a match of cricket?
My friends and me play cricket over the weekend and we end up being in the field for 3-4 hours and we also workout together 2-3 times per week and use moderate to heavy weights.

10 August, 2011 | Thrupthi Sharma | Reply

Thrupthi Sharma My son and his friends like RED BULL and drink it whenever they feel tired after a vigorous game of football. He says it re energises him or he feels very tired to get onto his studies. After I read your article I looked at the nutritional information. Happy to note it had a few vitamins, hardly any fats or carbs to worry about but it had no protein either. It is rich in sodium which was worrying. So do I let him drink it regularly after a game or kindly suggest alternatives.

11 August, 2011 | Poonam | Reply

Poonam Hello Ms Sharma,
The nutritional information mentioned on the can is for every 100 ml and if your son is consuming a 250 ml can, then it contains about 27gms of carbohydrates (all sugars), and 80 mg of caffeine apart from other nutrients. The vitalizing effect your son is experiencing is probably because of the energy content as well as the stimulating impact of caffeine. You must be aware that caffeine can be addicting and he should not make a habit out of consuming the drink. You could make him some refreshing drink at home instead, like a fresh lime or a fresh fruit juice, a smoothie or milkshake.

24 January, 2011 | Sirish Jain | Reply

Sirish Jain I am 20 yrs old and am a in the cricket team of my college. The normal sports drink we get in India like Gatorade is only carbs. If adding protein in the sports drink will help in recovery of muscle post match then why is it not being added in the sports drink?

25 January, 2011 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar Dear Mr Jain
The first requirement for continual good performance, for any sports person is rehydration and electrolyte and energy replenishment, which Gatorade is now providing. Only recently the value of adding protein in sports drinks is being researched. Once the need for the same is completely established, it will be easily available in India. It also involves the cost factor as protein is expensive so the company always weighs buying power of the people for their turnover.
Our suggestion is that you register with us or work with your sports nutritionist for choosing what’s best for you given the current situation.
Thank you
Vijayalakshmi Iyengar
Sr Dietitian

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