Low Carbohydrate Sports Drink With Protein Improves Endurance in Women Athletes

A “low-carb, mixed-carb” sports drink with added protein leads to prolonged endurance performance in trained female athletes, according to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

The endurance gain likely reflects the added protein as well as a mix of carbohydrates, compared to a standard “single-carb” drink, acccording to Erin L. McCleave, MS and her colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin.

Fourteen trained female cyclists and triathletes were studied on two occasions. The women’s time to exhaustion was significantly longer with the mixed-carb plus protein supplement: nearly 50 minutes, compared to 42 minutes with the dextrose-only drink. Thus, the mixed-carb plus protein drink increased endurance performance by about 15%.

In their effort to develop a more effective supplement, the researchers switched from a single source of carbohydrate (dextrose) to a combination of three carbohydrates: glucose, fructose, and maltodextrin. The new formulation improves exercise endurance in female athletes, compared to a standard dextrose-only supplement.

“[The protein plus mixed-carb (and low-carb) supplement] improved performance despite containing 50% lower carbohydrate content and approximately 30% fewer calories,” McCleave stated in a press release. “This may be an important consideration for those individuals concerned about body weight and caloric intake.”

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