Food Factoids Section

Boost Endurance with Energy Drinks

Taurine, caffeine and vitamin B12. These are just some of the most popular ingredients used in mainstream energy drinks today. While great for perking up worn out consumers, a study last month now concludes that energy drinks (ED) can also improve athletic endurance. The study was a double-blind, randomized, crossover design. After a 12-hour fast, six male and six female trained cyclists drank 500 ml of either flavored placebo or Red Bull Energy Drink, 40 minutes before a simulated cycling trial. The end results demonstrated that consuming a commercially available ED before exercise can improve performance endurance, when compared with the placebo. (Source: Ivy, J.L., Kammer, L., Ding, Z., Wang, B., Bernard, J.R., Liao, Y.-H., Hwang, J., International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2009. 19 (1), pp. 61-78)

Goji Berry for On-the-Go Athletes

Superior athletes rely on “super foods” to keep them in tip-top performance shape. But are certain “super foods” better than others? A recent study has demonstrated that Lycium barbarum, commonly known as the goji berry, can improve a wide variety of overall well-being, including athletic performance. The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial examined the general effects of the orally consumed goji berry as a standardized juice to healthy adults for 14 days. The study rated well-being, neurologic/ psychological traits, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, and cardiovascular complaints as well as any adverse effects. Test subjects consumed 120 ml of GoChi brand juice per day or drank a placebo control solution. By the end of 14 days the study found significant differences in the GoChi group that included increased ratings for energy levels, athletic performance, sleep quality, ease of awakening, mental acuity, calmness, feelings of happiness, reduced fatigue and stress, and improved gastrointestinal function. Looks like goji berries earned a gold medal! (Source: Amagase, H., Nance, D.M., Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Volume 14, Issue 4, 1 May 2008, Pages 403-412)

Creatine Enters the Rat Race

Building endurance the old-fashioned way requires practice, but thanks to a recent study, Creatine was shown as another way to enhance endurance with high-intensity exercise. The study enlisted rats in 16 days of running over 28 days, with Creatine administered daily. Treatment rats drank water containing Creatine while the control rats drank water without it. In the end, the treatment group’s running endurance improved by 81%, as the supplementation enabled the rats to run farther. This demonstrates potential for enhancing athletes’ endurance performance. (Source: Malin, S.K., Cotugna, N., .2008. Journal of Dietary Supplements 5 (2), pp. 106-116)

Milking It for What It’s Worth

The next time you exercise, you may want to reach for a glass of milk to re-hydrate, rather than a fruity sports drink. Why? A recent study has shown that low-fat milk may be more effective for post-exercise re-hydration. The study compared low-fat milk alone, low-fat milk with sodium chloride, a sports drink and water at restoring fluid balance after exercise in heat. The different drinks, in equal amounts, were given to test subjects every 15 minutes during recovery time. By the end of the four hours of recovery, both milk groups maintained fluid balance, while both the sports drink and water groups did not. The study concluded that low-fat milk was more effective than sports drinks in promoting re-hydration based on the lower total urine output observed during recovery. Perhaps you will re-hydrate with low-fat milk after your next work out? After all, it is good for more than just its calcium content. (Source: Roy, B.D., 2008. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 5, art. No. 15)