Mix of Protein and Carb Drinks Boost Athletic Performance

Athletes who consume sports drinks with protein and carbohydrates perform better than those who use drinks containing only carbohydrates. The study comes from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, following research that measured improvements in cyclist’s recovery following exercise.

Researchers from Gettysburg College and The University of Western Ontario performed the carbohydrate, protein drink study, in conjunction with Dr. John Berardi, from Precision Nutrition.

The study showed that protein and carbohydrate combination drinks improved power and endurance of the cyclists, though energy expenditure was the same for the two groups. The athletes who drank the protein carbohydrate drink also had a decreased perception of fatigue compared to the carbohydrate only group.

Fifteen trained male cyclists were given a standardized breakfast. Two hours later, they performed a sixty-minute cycling time trial using a Computrainer indoor trainer where the cyclists compete with a virtual opponent. Afterwards, they were given either a protein and carbohydrate, or carbohydrate only drink, after 10, 60 and 120 minutes. Four hours later, the cyclists again ate a standardized meal, repeating the cycling trial six hours following the first.

The athletes consuming the protein and carb sports drinks traveled farther and displayed greater cycling power in the second sixty minutes of cycling. The researchers also observed an increase in fat oxidation in the group.

Dr. Berardi concluded, "These findings may be important considering that most endurance athletes concern themselves primarily with carbohydrate intake and often fail to recognize the potential benefits of protein with respect to performance recovery". The study shows that carbohydrate drinks without protein may not be the best to boost athletic performance.


Recovery from a cycling time trial is enhanced with carbohydrate-protein supplementation vs. isoenergetic carbohydrate supplementation.

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