samsmith2424 wrote:Today there was an article on Andy Murry's (a tennis player) diet. What I can't understand why he is having "Ninety minutes before his match...... a plateful of chicken and rice, loaded with energy-delivering protein"
I know tennis is a little different to judo but I thought you should not have proteins just before a competition but rather carbohydrates and not 90 minutes before but about three hours before, and then just snack on fruit and energy bars if necessary. Anyone have any thoughts?
"There has never been a sportsman who has been as meticulously assembled as Andy Murray. Allied to his extraordinary natural skill and ferocious desire to win, what has carried him to his fifth successive Wimbledon semi-final is the relentless appliance of science. There is nothing in his life that is left to chance, nothing that is not measured, calibrated and balanced. This is a man whose route to the summit of his profession has been mapped with a meticulousness bordering on the obsessive.
Take his diet. He will have started eating at 7.30 this morning. While many of those arriving at Wimbledon’s press restaurant will have begun their day assaulting a tottering Himalaya of fried starch, Murray will have eaten yogurt, fruit and a bagel smeared in peanut butter.
On his way to the All England Club he will have nibbled at a protein bar and a banana. He has not always got on with bananas, incidentally. In his autobiography he described them as “pathetic fruit”. But his nutritionist recommended them as a means to deliver potassium to the system, essential to maintaining cardiovascular health. So he overcame his disdain and now eats lots of them. No longer does he describe anything as pathetic if it can help him win.
Ninety minutes before his match he will have a plateful of chicken and rice, loaded with energy-delivering protein. Then, afterwards, there will be the sushi: he eats up to 50 pieces a day. He was eating some on Wednesday evening as he spoke to the press after his quarter-final victory over Fernando Verdasco. The mix of protein and carbohydrate without a hint of fat is reckoned the perfect way to replenish physical resources after an intense physical workout. So much of the stuff does he consume that he may be single-handedly responsible for the diminution of the world’s tuna stocks."
This is a good question.
The short answer is that it suggests that scientists have been involved in providing him with advice. The long answer is ... well ... longer, obviously.
In Physiology for Dummies it basically says that energy for long duration is derived from fat, and energy for short duration exercise from carbs. That is, however, a simplification. Imagine you run a 400 m at fast pace, and let's say it takes you 1 minute to do so, which is not unreasonable if you're not an elite sprinter. According to the theory, your exercise is anaerobic, more precisely lactic anaerobic, and you will derive your energy from carbs while producing lactate, right ?
Where do the muscles get this energy from carbs come from ? It comes primarily from the glucose circulating in your blood and muscle, which obviously is limited. It is regulated by insulin, glucagon with also an important role for catecholamines. As blood glucose rapidly starts going down metabolic pathways cause a second substance, namely glucose in its stored form, which is called glycogen to be converted back to its useable form glucose, this is what is called glycolysis. Some of this glycogen is stored in the muscle, but in a limited form, whereas the rest is stored in the liver. And of course, also lactic acid that has been produced can be converted back into energy by the liver, through a first form of gluconeogenesis through a scientific process called the Cori cycle.
Now, imagine you do not eat for 3 days, but every day you go do exercise, and run 400 m. Your glucose and glycogen derived from carbs will become completely depleted. No doubt you will feel weaker and weaker, but on day 400 are you totally unable to run your 400 m. No, you still can, even though you will struggle and your time probably won't be your best. So, how is it possible to still get this energy in the for of glucose, when clearly your glucose and glycogen were depleted by exercise the previous days and have not been replenished by new carbs since you did not eat ?
This is possible because there is, of course, a third form of energy, namely protein. In our body, the protein is physically present in the form of amino acids and in the form of muscles. Under influence of the body's cortisol production, which is a "glucocorticoid" (see the word 'gluco' in there), muscles/protein are broken down into amino acids and through a second form of gluconeogenesis (= production of new glucose) through a scientific process called the "Glucose alanine cycle" sent to the liver which is able to produce glucose from them. In this way, protein thus does not simply serve the function of building up muscle but a role of energy provision.
The question that arises from this knowledge is whether it is possible in an athlete to without complete starvation to make use of proteins for energy in this way adding them as extra energy on top or your normal glucose and glycogen. It obviously is possible through pre-starving your body, but this process is somewhat dangerous since your body controls exactly when and to what extent and from exactly where it will use muscle protein for glucose. In more clear terms, using muscle protein implies breaking down your muscle or acute putting you at risk for pulled or torn muscles due to weakening. This is a high price to pay, and particularly risky in a contact sport where you are not in full control of your next movements. Thus alternative ways are sought to use protein from your diet for energy without having to pre-starve your body.
We already have known since half of the the 1980s that the optimal way to absorb your dietary carbs or your dietary proteins for muscle development is to ingest them as soon as possible after cessation of your exercise or generally no longer than 30 minutes after cessation of exercise. For this purpose, but also for the purpose of maximal recovery from the exercise you have just done science has been suggesting that optimally one should also add dietary protein BEFORE the exercise. This is a shift from the view of the 1980s that entirely focuses on carbs as pre-exercise dietary needs. In other words, Murray is up to date.
So basically, kind of summarizing ... there is a lot of evidence that suggests that consuming protein with carbohydrates before exercise is linked with a greater nitrogen balance, a greater strength and an improvement of the fat free mass-fat mass ratio.
Before starting to do this yourself, there is one caveat though. Be aware that proteins are far harder to digest than carbs. They generate the highest response of stomach acid in order to break down the amino acids, so basically if you're not careful you might be overloading your stomach in such a way that you have a subject feeling of a full stomach much longer which might interfere with your performance too. Imagine the typical Thanksgiving dinner ! This overload effect is usually less with engineered protein supplements or poultry such as chicken than when consuming something like steak.
There is also a second caveat, which is a bit more hardcore science, but basically it boils down to the generation of glucose (gluconeogenesis form 2) from protein through the alanine cycle being more slowly and less effective than simply glycolysis or than gluconeogenesis form 1 (from lactate through the Cori cycle.
But all in all the real conclusion of this is something I have been saying for many years ... unlike in judo people are not averse to science in other sports where clearly advancements are largely due to advances in sciences, whereas training in judo pretty much is the same nonsense as 50 years ago: just train harder and more, instead of more effective. As long as judo federations keep appointing national coaches and performance directors on the simple basis that they won an important title or medal here or there, this won't change ! And then they wonder why their country is not doing any better during these contests. But just try to make that clear to them.