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A research review just published in the highly regarded journal Sports Medicine discusses the optimal way to put energy back into the body after moderate to high intensity endurance exercise.
In summarizing the results of a large number of studies the authors concluded that "carbohydrate should be ingested as early as possible in the post-exercise period and at frequent (i.e. 15- to 30-minute) intervals throughout recovery to maximize the rate of muscle glycogen resynthesis."
Aim to eat more sugary foods in that initial recovery period: "Solid and liquid carbohydrate supplements or whole foods can achieve this aim with equal effect but should be of high glycaemic index and ingested… at a rate of at least 1 g/kg/h in order to rapidly and sufficiently increase both blood glucose and insulin concentrations throughout recovery."
The reviewers also said that adding ≥0.3 g per kg of body weight per hour of protein to a carbohydrate supplement results in a synergistic increase in insulin secretion. This can have the neat effect of accelerating muscle glycogen resynthesis.
Specifically, if for some reason you can’t get enough carbohydrate to replenish your stores, then adding protein may at least partially compensate for the limited availability of ingested carbohydrate.
Source: Sports Medicine, Volume 40, Number 11, 1 November 2010 , pp. 941-959(19)
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