Nancy, which brand of amino acids should I buy? On amazon.com, there are 16 brands, ranging in price from $18 to $40. Help…!”
Answer: What makes you think you even need to buy essential amino acids? You can easily get them in protein-rich foods like eggs, yogurt, milk, chicken—any animal-based protein has all the essential amino acids your body needs.
The protein supplement industry has done an excellent job of making consumers believe they need to buy essential amino acids. Wrong! If you fuel-up your workouts with a protein+carb combination, such as a yogurt and banana, and then recover afterwards with another protein+carb combination such as lowfat chocolate milk followed by real foods at the next meal, you’ll be doing a fine job of getting all of these building blocks of protein. Rest assured, you could more wisely spend your money on protein-rich foods, not amino acid supplements, and get the results you want from your workouts.
Just to define the “lingo”: Proteins are made from many amino acids, just like words are made from many letters. Some of these amino acids— the essential amino acids—need to come from food, because the body cannot make them.
Here are a few ways to get two of the essential amino acids, isoleucine and leucine. Because pure amino acids taste nasty, I’ll get mine from yummy chocolate milk and real foods at meals any day!
Chocolate milk is an excellent recovery choice. After a hard workout, your muscles want carbs to refuel and high quality protein to build and heal. Rather than buy an expensive engineered sports food, enjoy a tall glass of low fat chocolate milk (or any flavored milk, for that matter).
In a study with cyclists who:
--depleted their muscles during an exhaustive bike ride, and then
--refueled with equal amounts of carbs in chocolate milk or a commercial recovery drink,
--then the next day did a time trial,
the cyclists gained no performance benefits from the commercial drink.
The bottom line: Save your moneyand also nourish your body with a whole food that offers far more life-sustaining nutritional value than just carbs and protein. Likely tastes better, too!
If you are doing double workouts (within 6 hours) or competing in a tournament situation, you need to rapidly refuel to get ready for the next bout of exercise. A survey of 263 endurance athletes indicates they understand the importance of recovery after a hard workout, but they dont know what to eat. They believe protein is the key to recovery. Wrong. Carbohydrate should really be the fundamental source of recovery fuel. Or better yet, a foundation of carbs with a little protein, such as chocolate milk. A survey of exhausted cyclists who were given a choice of recovery drinks indicated they all enjoyedand tolerated wellthe chocolate and vanilla milks, more so than water, sports drink or watery chocolate drink. Chocolate milk is familiar, readily availableand tastes good! If you are not lactose-intolerant, give it a try.
How long do your muscles need to recover? A study with elite soccer players suggests they needed five days for sprinting ability to return to pre-game level. That's four days longer than most athletes allow... Do not underestimate the power of rest in a recovery program.
Rremember: food is fuel. As an athlete, you shouldn't just eat,you should be sure to eat right!