By Jared Eborn — Fueling during races and while training is fairly well understood. If you want to perform well during long (or even short) periods of intense physical activity you need to replace the calories and electrolytes you’re burning up.
But what about for the moments after you cross the finish line or slip off the bike shoes?
Grabbing an ice-cold bottle of water certainly hits the spot, but endurance athletes of all sorts know there’s a better way to put back into the body what it just lost.
For some, a hefty bacon cheeseburger and Mountain Dew is what they’re craving. But as good as that might sound, there’s science saying that if you want to recover in a way that will also boost your next performance you might want to dial back on the guilty pleasure grub and instead grab a bottle of something specifically formulated to rapidly return your body to peak condition.
The folks at Utah-based First Endurance believe they’ve designed the perfect recovery supplement. As good as chocolate milk tastes and works for recovery, adding a serving of First Endurance’s Ultragen might be the best choice you can make at the finish line.
“The mixture of certain foods timed appropriately will certainly help any endurance athlete recover better. We don’t refute this. And following one or two workouts, this is OK to do,” Robert Kunz, founder and vice president of science and technology at First Endurance said. “However, when you demand that your body exercise hard day in and day out, food is simply not absorbed as fast as a well formulated recovery drink. Within a few weeks this becomes obvious.”
Water and a PBJ, Kunz said, will certainly help you recover. But there’s a better way.
“This is no different than asking, ‘Why not just buy a bike with six speeds for your race season?’ You can certainly race this way, and if strong enough maybe even podium,” Kunz said, “but with new technology you give yourself the best chance to race at your potential.”
The key to optimal recovery, Kunz said, is to understand a little of the science behind what’s happening in your body after a long workout. But proper recovery actually begins during that workout and is then maximized during a window where the body is most receptive to restorative supplements.
“The entire endurance recovery process is based around replenishing what’s been lost during exercise. It should be every athlete’s goal NOT to deplete glycogen stores. It starts first with staying as well fueled as possible during exercise, then topping it off immediately afterwards,” Kunz said. “Following long exhaustive exercise your cells are highly sensitive to ‘accepting’ nutrients. This is especially true the first 30 minutes following exercise, which has been defined as the ‘glycogen’ window. Choosing nutrients which are absorbed very fast allows you to take full advantage of this glycogen window. Glucose is the fastest carbohydrate absorbed, which is why Ultragen is designed with 60g of Glucose per serving.”
Ultragen, according to First Endurance, is the most advanced formula on the market for recovery.
“Ultragen was designed to be absorbed as fast as possible, meaning it has a glycemic index nearing 100. That’s because 100 percent of the carbohydrates come from glucose-the highest glycemic sugar available,” Kunz said. “Adding fats, fiber, whole food proteins and other slower absorbed nutrients only delays this process and slows absorption. Because of this, we designed Ultragen with small molecular weight proteins (whey protein isolate and hydrolyzed whey protein), free form amino acids and vitamins and minerals. You theoretically cannot design a product to be absorbed any faster.”
First Endurance recognizes that one of the worst things that can happen to endurance athletes is getting sick during peak training and racing periods. The body is trying to recover but simply can’t because its immune system is messing up the game plan. Not surprisingly, proper recovery foods and drinks can help keep athletes out of the doctor’s office.
“This is the primary reason why you use a recovery drink and is the basis of the entire formula. Depleting your glycogen due to heavy endurance exercise also directly depletes iron, glutamine, branched chain amino acids and electrolytes,” Kunz said. “This increases your cortisol levels which directly suppress your testosterone. Athletes become catabolic (break down muscle) and store more fat. Your heart rate is elevated throughout the day and you don’t sleep well.
“The end result is overtraining syndrome a higher risk of infection,” Kunz said. “Your ability to remain healthy, rested and well fueled is the only way you can demand your body to improve its ability to handle higher levels of stress and longer endurance bouts. It is very clear that our athletes and customers who have committed themselves to technically advance nutrition, have benefited first and foremost with a healthier lifestyle.”
Ultragen, Kunz said, uses a scientific formula to keep an athlete’s immune system functioning at high levels.
“Preventing the depletion of glycogen, glutamine, branched chain amino acids, electrolytes and, of course, water is the first step in improving your immune response,” Kunz said. “Ultragen is engineered with carbohydrates and proteins which are absorbed faster than anything else and because of this they can be absorbed fully during the 30-minute glycogen window.”
What exactly, then, is the science behind Ultragen’s formula?
“It was critical that we chose proteins with the best clinical research and performed the best during and immediately post exercise,” Kunz said. “Ultragen uses micro-filtered ion exchange isolated whey protein. This is a highly advanced form of protein which retains is superior amino acid profile and isolates only the proteins while minimizing carbohydrates or fats.”
With professional teams such as Radio Shack Leopard Trek, Specialized Lululemon and Bissell – as well as countless professional triathletes – relying on First Endurance products, getting the formula just right was critical.
“The second protein used is a hydrolyzed whey protein, which his enzymatically pre-digested, so its absorption is complete and immediate. There are various analytical tools developed to measure a protein’s effectiveness,” Kunz said. “These tools measure digestibility, amino acid profile, muscular growth and absorption giving a better picture of how whey protein stacks up to soy, rice protein, egg, caseine or nuts. A meta-analysis using the protein digestibility corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS), amino acid score, protein efficiency ratio (PER), and biological value (BV) clearly shows whey to be superior to other proteins. Ultragen delivers 20g of protein per serving exclusively from whey protein isolate and hydrolyzed whey protein assuring our athletes get the most technically advanced fastest proteins absorbed.”