Protein actually improves sports performance, according to four new studies presented at the annual meeting of the American college of Sports Medicine in June.
For years, conventional exercise wisdom has been to load up on carbs, but now it appears that drinks or bars with a more balanced mix of protein and carbs deliver much more benefits than carbs alone. Researchers from James Madison University reported that, when compared to carbohydrate-only drinks, protein and carb mixtures increased the parameters of exercise performance, decreased muscle fatigue, improved exercise endurance (by 19 percent), decreased muscle damage (by 75 percent), and even improved muscle functioning measured 24 hours later (by 16 percent). Impressively, for NCAA Division 1 cross-country runners, a protein/carb mix reduced muscle damage by 27% and muscle soreness by 30%.
Water remains the best drink for exercise, as even a small amount of dehydration can seriously decrease performance. But all-carb beverages (or bars) don’t offer nearly the benefits that protein-carb mixes do. You can get an ideal blend of protein and carbs by either drinking an Atkins Advantage shake along with a piece of fruit like an apple, or by consuming an Atkins Advantage bar. The Carmel Chocolate Peanut Nougat bar, for example, offers a terrific blend of 11 grams of protein together with 17 grams of carbs, not to mention 9 grams of fiber, no trans-fats and 1 gram of sugar.