Protein And Carbs After Cycling Improves Performance And Recovery

EndurElite Chief Endurance Officer discusses new research that demonstrates that ingesting carbs and protein after cycling improves recovery and next day performance compared to eating carbs alone.

3 Tips On The Best Way To Recover From Cycling And Mountain Biking

  1. Eat 1.2 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram body weight immediately post exercise.
  2. Consume 25-30 grams of protein immediately after exercise in the form of a whey protein powder.
  3. Eat both the carbohydrates and protein together to maximize glycogen resynthesis and muscle protein synthesis.

Full Video Transcript:

Good morning, Family of FAST. Matt Mosman, the Chief Endurance Officer over at EndurElite. From previous videos, you know I like to talk a lot about carbohydrates. I like to talk a lot about protein. But rarely do I ever do a video where I talk about them both, and that's what we're gonna do today.

Carbs, Protein, Or Both After Exercise For Recovery?

There was an interesting study that came across my desk, thank you Garrett Hobbs, that examine the effect of carbohydrate taken by itself and carbohydrate combined with protein and how this affected the recovery and performance of elite level cyclists. So let's look at the study. I have it pulled up in front of me.

And this one is from the "Journal of Applied Physiology," one of my favorites, and the title of the study is "Protein intake in the early recovery period after exhaustive exercise improves performance the following day." Wow, that's a mouthful and it was done by a research scientist named Sollie et al. So I'm gonna just, kinda, skip the geek-speak while going through this study and just kinda simplify it and really give you a take-home message.

What Researchers Did With the Carbs And Protein In Cyclists

So what the researchers were looking to do in this study is to investigate the effects, again, of carbohydrate and carbohydrate plus protein and how this would affect recovery and performance the next day after they basically beat the hell out of these cyclists with different types of exercises the day before.

What The Study Had The Cyclists Do

So what they did is they took eight elite level cyclists and with by elite, they had a VO2 max of 74%. That's pretty high. And they had these cyclists complete two exercise and diet interventions in a double blinded randomized crossover design. All that really means is this is a well-done study. That's all you need to know there.

So here's what the researchers had the cyclists do to basically beat the hell out of them. Participants cycled first at 73% of VO2 max, so right below lactate threshold, followed by one minute intervals at 90% of VO2 max. So like vomit type intensities until, basically, they were exhausted. Then right after this exhausted exercise, they fed these cyclists.

What Types Of Carbs And Protein and How Much Did The Cyclists Get?

One group got carbohydrate. So they got 1.2 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram body weight for two hours following exercise. So that was one group. And the other group received 0.8 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram body weight plus 0.4 grams per kilogram body weight of protein.

Now the carbohydrate in this study was glucose and the protein was just like a standard whey protein. And then after they did this two hours of ingesting either the carbohydrate and protein, they went back to a standardized diet for the rest of the day. So after recovering for a total of 18 hours, these cyclists, they came back the next day and cycling performance was assessed with a 10 second sprint test, 30 minutes of cycling at 73% of VO2 max and then finally a cycling time trial. Now this is where it gets interesting.

What Were The Results Of Eating Carbs Or Carbs And Protein On Recovery And Performance?

The time trial was 8.5% faster in the group that consumed the carbohydrate and protein compared to the group that just ate the carbohydrate alone. Mean power output during the sprint portion of this test was 3.7% higher in the carbohydrate protein group compared to the carbohydrate group alone.

So, in conclusion, the researchers found that the cyclists who consumed the carbohydrate plus protein instead of just the carbohydrate after exhaustive exercise we're able to better recover and perform better the next day after doing all that exhaustive exercise the previous day. Now what the heck happened here

Why Did The Carbs Plus Protein Cyclists Recover And Perform Better?

Why did this carbohydrate plus protein group perform better than the carbohydrate group? Well, I have my assumptions based off the previous research. So we all know protein promotes muscle repair and recovery and can reduce muscle protein breakdown, that could be part of it, absolutely. We also know that the carbohydrates may have helped restore glycogen levels which, again, is very important for recovery.

But my guess is and other research studies confirm this is when you combine protein and carbohydrate together, this has been shown to elevate glycogen resynthesis to a higher extent than when you're just consuming carbohydrate alone. So that's my theory as to why they perform better because they were probably able to saturate muscle glycogen stores a little bit better than the carbohydrate alone group.

So what's the moral of the story or the point of this whole research study and this video? Well, after you're done exercise, eat some carbohydrates, eat some protein. It's actually pretty, pretty simple.

And that's why we have carbohydrates and protein in our RecoverElite product, not just one or the other. Both is the magic combination. So that is all I have today my endurance friends.

If you want other videos like this on endurance training, nutrition, supplementation, other random musings, subscribe to the EndurElite YouTube channel or head on over to the EndurElite blog at Get social with us on Instagram and our super-duper awesome Facebook EndurElite Family of FAST group. And until next time, stay fueled, stay focused, stay fast and stay informed.