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4 bytes added, 17:08, 13 April 2012
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To understand protein, it is helpful to know some basic nutritional science. Protein is made up of amino acids [1]; there are 22 normal amino acids and 8 of them are called 'essential' because they have to be eaten as the body cannot produce them from other foods [2]. A food can be described as 'complete' if it contains a balance of the essential amino acids. Complete proteins are generally from animal sources - dairy and meat. However, you don't need to get all the amino acids from the same food to get a complete protein. Simply having beans and cereals in the diet will create the balance needed. (They don't need to be eaten in the same meal [4])
The human body as no 'store' of protein other than your muscles. There is some interesting research that indicates that having amino acids available as quickly as possible after training will improve muscle synthesis (and therefore recovery). The ideal approach seems to be to take raw amino acids, either before or after training [11]. as they are available more quickly than protein, but this is more expensive than protein. Whey protein is more easily digested (two hours) than other forms of protein, so this is the next best approach. Taking protein before exercise is best, but I for one can't tolerate much protein when running. Taking protein with fast carbohydrate (high [[Glycemic Index]]) can create an insulin spike that also helps muscle synthesis. So taking some Whey protein in Gatorade immediately after running should help recovery and muscle building. [5, 6]
What about sports drinks/gels that contain Protein? The evidence for protein consumption during exercise improving performance is somewhat mixed [9]. My suggestion would be to try it and see how you get on. You could use the commercial carbohydrate/protein drinks/gels, or you could make your own drink by adding protein powder to your current drink. The latter would give you the option of using a higher quality protein, or even an amino acid combination.

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