Masters Athletes Not Too Savvy on Nutritional Recovery

Introduction

I have some very smart PhD students. They make me look good by producing high quality and very applied research outcomes! Tom Doering, a champion age-group triathlete, originally from Tasmania, is doing some ground-breaking research examining whether masters athletes need more protein in their recovery nutrition than younger athletes. This suggestion is based on the fact that existing research in older non-athletes has found older inactive people need more protein in their diets than younger people if they want to help maintain their muscle mass into older age. The rationale is that older people are anabolic resistant and don’t take up protein building blocks (amino acids) from food as quickly as younger people do. Tom is trying to see whether older athletes have the same issue and thus need more protein in their recovery nutrition.

To answer this research question, we first did a survey of sport nutritional knowledge and actual nutritional intakes in older and younger triathletes. Our research has shown that both young and older triathletes are not too smart when it comes to sport nutrition knowledge. Even more concerning was the lower carbohydrate and protein intakes of the masters athletes compared to the younger athletes. Here is what we did and what we found.

The Research

182 triathletes (Males=101; Female =81) completed an online survey distributed by Triathlon Australia. Knowledge of post-exercise sport nutrition recommendations for protein (20-25 grams following exercise) and carbohydrate intake (1.0-1.2 grams/kg/hour) were assessed as a group, and within sub-groups of masters (≥50 years; n=36) and younger triathletes (≤30 years; n=18). Using dietary recall of a typical post-exercise meal and subsequent dietary analysis, the actual nutritional practices of younger versus masters triathletes were also compared.

Results

As a whole group, less than 45% of the triathletes did not know the above recommended post-exercise guidelines for carbohydrate or protein. 31% of the masters triathletes and only 17% of the youngsters knew the correct amount of carbohydrate needed after exercise (1.0-1.2 grams/kg/hour). When it came to the amount of protein needed after exercise, only 25% of the over 50 year old triathletes and 22% of the younger athletes knew the correct answer (20-25 grams).

Of even greater concern was the actual carbohydrate and protein intakes of the older triathletes. The over 50 year-old athletes (0.70±0.43 g/kg) took in significantly less carbohydrate than the younger athletes (1.02±0.54 g/kg). Critically, the amount of carbohydrate intake in the older athletes was well below that recommended after exercise. Moreover, the older triathletes took in significantly less protein than the younger triathletes (0.28±0.19 g/kg vs. 0.42±0.23 g/kg), despite a suggestion based on research from older inactive people that they in fact should be taking in more protein after exercise than youngsters.

So What?

Our results suggest that regardless of age, triathletes have poor knowledge of the recommended post-exercise nutritional guidelines. However, this lack of knowledge does not appear to compromise the post-exercise nutritional practices of younger triathletes. In contrast, our data suggest masters triathletes are not consuming enough carbohydrate after training. This may compromise subsequent training, especially in older athletes who train twice a day. Our data also suggest masters triathletes consume post-exercise protein doses that may not be high enough to maximize muscle recovery in the older athlete.

For those of you wanting to know more about recovery nutrition you won’t find a better resource than this one from the Australian Institute of Sport Nutrition Unit: http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/factsheets/competition_and_training/recovery_nutrition

Tom is about to analyse data from a recently-completed study where we looked at higher than recommended doses of post-exercise protein intake in older triathletes to see what effect it had on cycling performance over 3 consecutive days. Next update I’ll let you know the outcomes.

For more details on what recovery strategies work in older athletes, check out chapters 15 (Recovery Strategies for Masters Athletes) and 16 (Nutrition for Masters Athletes) of my book at: http://www.mastersathlete.com.au

Beta-Alanine: Might it be a Supplement of Choice for Masters Athletes?

Introduction

The use of dietary supplements in sports is widespread as athletes young and old are continuously searching for strategies to increase performance at the highest level. Beta-alanine is a supplement that is becoming increasingly popular over recent years. This review examines the available evidence regarding the use of beta-alanine supplementation and the link between beta-alanine and exercise performance in young and older people.

The Research

Beta-alanine supplementation is well-known to increase muscle carnosine levels. Carnosine is known to lower fatigue levelsand improve high-intensity exercise performance through buffering muscle acidity levels. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that chronic beta-alanine supplementation can increase intramuscular carnosine content. On the basis of its biochemical properties, several functions are ascribed to carnosine, of which intramuscular pH buffer and increasing the release of calcium in muscle to increase the force of muscle contraction are the most cited ones. In addition, carnosine has antioxidant properties, suggesting it could have a therapeutic potential in older athletes.

The suggested protocol for taking beta-alanine to increase muscle carnosine levels is taking up to approximately 4-6 gm per day over 4-10 weeks but in smaller regular doses in the day or using a slow-release tablet form. This is because taking more than 800 mg/day (approximately 10 mg/kg of body weight) has been shown to lead to parasthesia or a burning, tingling sensation in the skin. It appears that being an athlete in regular training increases the efficiency of the beta-alainine in increasing carnosine levels in muscles. Stopping ingestion  of the btea-alanine sees the carnosine levels return to pre-supplementing levels after 6-20 weeks. Maintenance of muscle carnosine levels appears to be maintained by beta-alanine intakes of about 1.2 gm/day.

What about the effect of beta-alanine supplementation on sports performance. Research suggest chronic beta-alanine supplementation increases muscle carnosine concentration leading to improved exercise performance in high-intensity exercise lasting 1-4 minutes after loading for 4 plus weeks. Some small but positive effect has been noticed in 2000m rowing performance (6-7 minutes all-out) but the effect drops off dramatically in longer endurance events. For example, in 2014, a study by Chung and others examined the effect of doubling muscle carnosine by supplementing with oral beta-alanine. Based on previous research that showed that muscle carnosine loading through chronic oral beta-alanine supplementation has been shown to be effective for improving short-duration, high-intensity exercise, the researchers wanted to see what effect it might have on one-hour cycling performance in athletes. 27 well-trained cyclists/triathletes were supplemented with either beta-alanine or a placebo (6.4 g/day) for 6 weeks. Time to completion and physiological variables for a 1-hr cycling time-trial were compared between pre-and post-supplementation. In conclusion, chronic beta-alanine supplementation in well-trained cyclists had a very pronounced effect on muscle carnosine concentration and a moderate buffering effect on the acidosis associated with lactate accumulation, yet without affecting 1-h cycling time-trial performance under laboratory conditions. Similarly, research has also shown that beta-alanine supplementation has no positive effect on repeat sprint performance such as that in road cycling or team sports.

In older non-athletes there is some evidence to suggest beta-alanine may have benefits on performance. Del Favero and others (2012) found that 3.2 gm/day of beta-alanine over 12 weeks improved time to exhaustion on the treadmill in 60-80 year old non-athletes compared to a control group. More recently, McCormack and others (2013) study examined the effects of an oral nutritional supplement fortified with two different doses of beta-alanine on body composition, muscle function and physical capacity in older adults. 60 men and women (age 70.7 ± 6.2 yrs) were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups: 1) oral nutritional supplement (ONS; n = 20) (8 oz; 230 kcal; 12 g PRO; 31 g CHO; 6 g FAT), 2) ONS plus 800 mg beta-alanine (ONS800; n = 19), and 3) ONS plus 1200 mg beta-alanine (ONS1200; n = 21). Treatments were consumed twice per day for 12 weeks. At pre- and post-supplementation period, participants performed a submaximal cycle ergometry test to determine physical working capacity at fatigue threshold. Fat mass, total body and arm lean soft tissue mass were measured while muscle strength was assessed with handgrip dynamometry and 30-s sit-to-stand was used to measure lower body functionality. They showed that beta-alanine may improve physical working capacity, muscle quality and function in both older men and women. Previous research has also shown that carnosine levels in muscle decrease about 15-20% from youth to  middle-age with no decrease into older age. This might suggest that beta-alanine may have an even greater effect on performance than in younger people. However, no research to date has examined the effect of beta-alanine supplementation on performance in older male or female athletes.

Conclusions

On the basis of the high concentration of carnosine in human muscles, research supports it’s critical role in skeletal muscle physiology. Recent studies show that increasing carnosine levels through beta-alanine supplementation may improve muscle contraction forces and reduce muscle acidity levels in events lasting between 1-4 minutes.

While results from studies differ depending on the sample (e.g. young vs old; trained vs untrained), the most recent review of the research (Blancquaert and others, 2015), suggest the following:

  1. Chronic beta-alanine supplementation increases muscle carnosine concentration leading to improved exercise performance in high-intensity exercise lasting 1-4 minutes after loading for 4 plus weeks.
  2. Exercise training and co-ingestion of beta-alanine with meals can improve the efficiency of beta-alanine in increasing carnosine levels
  3. The exercise performance benefits of beta-alanine supplementing are equally effective in both trained and untrained individuals
  4. The increased muscle carnosine levels increase calcium release that excites muscle contraction. The increased carnosine also encourages a reduction in muscle acidity.

Sources: 1. Blancquaert, L and others (2015). Beta-alanine supplementation, muscle carnosine and exercise performance. Current Opinions in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 18(1): 63-70. 2. Chung, W. and others (2014). Doubling of muscle carnosine concentration does not improve laboratory 1-hr cycling time-trial performance. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 24(3): 315-324. 3. McCormack and others (2013). Oral nutritional supplement fortified with beta-alanine improves physical working capacity in older adults: a randomized, placebo-controlled study. Experimental Gerontology, 48(9): 933-939. 4. Del Favero and others (2012). Beta-alanine (Carnosyn™) supplementation in elderly subjects (60-80 years): effects on muscle carnosine content and physical capacity. Amino Acids, 43(1): 49-56.

Having a Nutrition Strategy Improves Endurance Performance

Introduction

It never ceases to amaze me how few athletes young or older (not old!) go into an endurance race without a nutrition plan. Here is some recent research evidence from Denmark highlighting that using a scientifically-based nutrition plan can improve race speed by close to 5%.

The Research

The researchers investigated whether a marathon run (42.2 km) was completed faster by applying a scientifically-based rather than a freely chosen nutritional strategy. Importantly from an applied perspective, gastrointestinal symptoms were also examined and reported. 14 non-elite runners performed a 10 km running time trial 7 weeks before the Copenhagen Marathon 2013 for estimation of running ability. Based on that time, runners were divided into two performance-matched groups that then completed the marathon by applying either of two race nutritional (gels and water) strategies – one they chose themselves, the other scientifically-based and given to the runners in that group under instruction from experts in the sports nutrition field. Runners applying the freely-chosen nutritional strategy (n = 14; 33.6 ± 9.6 years; 1.83 ± 0.09 m; 77.4 ± 10.6 kg; 45:40 ± 4:32 min for 10 km) freely choose their in-race food and water intake. Runners applying the scientifically-based nutritional strategy (n = 14; 41.9 ± 7.6 years; 1.79 ± 0.11 m; 74.6 ± 14.5 kg; 45:44 ± 4:37 min 10 k time) were targeting a combined in-race intake of energy gels and water, where the total intake amounted to approximately 0.750 L water, 60 g maltodextrin and glucose, 0.06 g sodium, and 0.09 g caffeine per hr. Gastrointestinal symptoms were assessed by a self-administered post-race questionnaire.

The runners in the scientifically-based nutrition and fluid group took in the following:

  • 2 energy gels (each gel contained 20 g maltodextrin and glucose, 0.02 gm of sodium and 0.03 gm caffeine) and 200 ml of water 10-15 minutes before the start of the marathon
  • 1 energy gel after 40 minutes of running and 1 gel every 20 minutes after that until finishing
  • water was encouraged at every one of the 10 water stations with 750 ml per hour the recommended target with each station having each individual athlete’s recommended water intake. Runners were encouraged to stop and drink

The Results

Marathon time was 3:49:26 ± 0:25:05 for the runners applying the freely chosen and and 3:38:31 ± 0:24:54 hr for the scientifically-based strategy nutrition and water intake strategy. The difference was statistically significant and represented a 4.7% faster marathon when using the scientifically-based nutrition plan. Some of the runners experienced diverse serious gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g. urge to defecate, reflux, bloating, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, muscle cramps, urge to urinate, dizziness), but overall, symptoms were low and not statistically different between groups.

So What?

The sport scientists concluded that non-elite runners completed a marathon on average 10:55 min (4.7%) faster by applying a scientifically-based rather than a freely chosen nutritional strategy with both groups having the same incidence of gastrointestinal upsets. In endurance races I often see or hear of well-prepared athletes who train the house down but forget race nutrition. These same athletes say they were worried about getting gut upsets, the lack of gels etc being available on the race course or hard to find and buy, or that simply did not know what the scientific principles of race nutrition are. These present findings tell you to learn what these principles are and prepare yourself rather than relying on the race organisers. When it comes to race day nutrition I’ve always worked on the 6P’s Principle – Perfect Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor (pardon the french!) Performance or another well known saying, Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. For more detailed information on nutrition before, during and after training or racing, see Chapters 6, 15 and 16 of my book The Masters Athlete.

Sources: 1. Hansen, E. and others (2014). Improved marathon performance by in-race nutritional strategy intervention, International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 24(6): 645-655. 2. Pfeiffer, B. and others (2012). Nutritional intake and gastrointestinal problems during competitive endurance events. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 44(2): 344-351. 3. O’Neal, E. and others (2011). Half-marathon and full-marathon runners’ hydration practices and perceptions. Journal of Athletic Training, 46(6): 581-591.

Popular Diets and Athletes – Promises, Premises, Pros and Cons!

Introduction

Athletes young and old like diets that promise improved sport performance, reduced body fat, increased muscle mass and improved health. Training mates, social media, TV documentaries and the popular press are abuzz with the latest diet fads or lifestyle plan and what they can do for us as athletes. A recent review by a Professor of Nutrition from the USA examined the premise, promises, pros and cons of four popular diets currently doing the rounds – the Raw Food Diet, the Gluten-Free Diet, the Fast Diet and the Paleo Diet. Here is what she came up.

How do they Rank as Diets?

For the last four years, US News and World Report ranks the best diets from best (ranking 1) to worst (ranking 32) using a nationally recognised panel of experts and specific criteria. Table 1 below shows how the Raw Food Diet, the Fast Diet and the Paleo Diet rank in the eight categories examined.

Table 1: Ranking of the popular diets 2014 (1 = best diet; 32 = worst diet). The gluten-free diet was not ranked but information is available here.

Category

Raw Food Diet

Fast Diet

Paleo Diet

Best overall diet

29

28

31

Best weight-loss diet

2

20

32

Best diabetes diet

23

25

31

Best heart-healthy diet

21

26

31

Best healthy eating diet

31

28

29

Easiest diet to follow

32

18

27

Best plant-based diet

11

Not ranked

Not ranked

Let’s take a look at the four diets in turn and see what the science says about these diest when it comes to athletes and sport performance.

  1.  Raw Food Diet. These diets are frequently vegan diets but can include raw meats, cheeses and milk. Raw foods are defined as never having been heated to greater than 115 degrees F (46 degrees C), never processed, microwaved, irradiated, genetically-modified, or treated with herbicides or pesticides. Premise: Proponents say raw foods are healthier because cooking destroys most of the vitamins and minerals and phytonutrients in foods. Cooking also destroys the enzymes in raw foods which the proponents say are important for good health. Promises: The marketers of this diet say it promotes weight loss, ‘detoxifies’ the body (what does that really mean?), prevents and reverses diabetes, and improves energy levels. Pros: The Raw Diet is rich in fruit and vegetables and thus high in vitamins and minerals. It’s also high in fibre and phytonutrients, low in sugar, salt and fat. It’s great for losing weight as those who use it eat about half their normal energy intake but feel full. Cons: It’s hard to follow and meal preparation can take a long time. Eating out can be hard as even vegetarian meals are usually cooked. Contrary to the proponents who say cooking can destroy vitamin, minerals and other nutrients some foods are more bioavaliable when cooked. These include lycopene in tomatoes. Other vegetables that deliver more nutrients when cooked include kale, carrots, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage and peppers. Cooking meat improves digestibility and destroys some pathogens. What about Raw Foods and Athletes? The biggest concern with raw food diets is getting enough energy to train and recover. The other major issue is how to get enough protein so important for muscle repair and growth. Finally, for female athletes, especially older female athletes, raw food diets have been shown to compromise bone mineral density. Research has shown that athletes who consume raw food diest may have shortfall of calcium, iron and vitamin B12 so supplementation may be needed.
  2. Gluten-Free Diet. When current number 1 tennis player Novak Djokovic claimed his ranking was due to this diet, athletes jumped on board. This diet is critical for for the health of people with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that damages the small bowel and is triggered when gluten is eaten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and oats and their associated products. This condition effects 1 in 133 americans and 1 in 70 Australians. Recently, researchers have shown some people suffer from nonceliac gluten insensitivity may also benefit from this diet. The food industry has jumped onto this desire to eat gluten-free foods even though people these people don’t have celiac disease or nonceliac gluten sensitivity! Premise: Gluten cannot be digested by a small percentage of the population and thus be eliminated from the diet for good health in those people. Promises: For people with celiac disease or nonceliac gluten sensitivity the diet promises weight loss and good health. Pros: Eliminating gluten found in wheat, rye, barley, oats and semolina and spelt improves symptoms (diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, flatulence, cramping, bloating, abdominal pain and others) in these people. Alternative carbohydrate and thus energy-providing alternatives for these individuals include rice, corn, quinoa, millet, potatoes and tapioca. Cons: Athletes without gluten intolerance may be restricting variety and energy-rich options in their diet. Their is NO evidence that a gluten-free diet will enhance weight loss, indeed it may lead to weight gaingiven many gluten-free products coantain higher amounts of fat, sugar and energy than gluten-containing foods. Are we being conned is the question with research from suggesting the biggest market in gluten-free products is in those without celiac disease or nonceliac gluten sensitivity? What about the Gluten-Free Diet and Athletes? Athletes on this diet may not get enough of the important energy-producing carbohydrates to fuel training and competition. Gluten-free products may often contain a lot of sugar and fat not suited to performance in training and racing. Athletes who suffer from celiac disease or nonceliac gluten sensitivity should work with a sports dietitian. Gluten-free does not mean healthier athletes.
  3. The Fast Diet: Doctor and journalist Michael Mosley recently introduced this diet that suggests intermittent fasting two days a week when males should eat 600 calories on those days and females 500 calories. Premise: This 5:2 diet (5 days normal diet, 2 fasting) can lead to weight loss and reduce the risk of chronic disease. Promises: Weight loss and protection against cardiovascular disease and cancer. Pros: The reduction in calories on the fasting days (usually spread over the week) does lead to weight loss if energy intake is held constant on the other 5 days. Some research also suggests mood enhancement on the fasting days as well as reduction in rheumatoid arthritis sysmptoms. Cons: Research is yet to show weight loss or reduction in disease symptoms with intermittent fasting. This diet is also not recommended for pregnant or lactating women or people with diabetes. For athletes, the biggest issue is not getting enough energy for training. What about the Fast Diet and Athletes? Athletes in training need carbohydrate, protein and fat to meet training demands, especially hard training. If wanting to use this diet, fast on rest or low volume/intensity days.
  4. The Paleo Diet. This was the most ‘googled’ diet search term in 2013! The paleo diet is ‘cross-promoted’ by CrossFit, one of the many new crazes to hit the fitness industry! The basis of the diet is to eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Premise: Modern consumerism has seen us move towards processed foods. Returning to the diet of our caveman ancsetors will restore health and reduce the incodence of chronic disease. Promises: The diet promises weight loss, improved health, preventaion of modern chronic diseases, and an eating plan better matched to our biology. Pros: It encourages the eating of lean protein-rich foods such as wild game, grass-fed beef and fish. These foods are loer in saturated fats than most farm-raised protein-rich foods. The diet also encourages the eating of greeh and non-starchy vegetables, fruit, nuts and the plant-based oils from olives, coconut and grapeseed. The diet is also high in dietary fibre and low in sugar and salt. Cons: It’s not asy to find totally organic foods including wild game. These foods are also relatively expensive. The diet also criticizes the use of foods that come from modern agriculture including wheat, oats and barley, legumes and nuts. Some of these foods are also enriched or fortified with nutrients such as iron, niacin, thiamin and riboflavin that are needed for energy production pathways and thus important for athletes. What about the Paleo Diet and Athletes? Avoiding grains, dairy foods and starchy vegetables make it hard for athletes, especially endurance and team sport or internmittent sport athletes (tennis, squash) to get the all-important carbohydrates and nutrients they need for energy production. Female athletes may also miss out on their calcium needs, especially if pregnant or lactating.

Conclusion

All weight loss diets such as these four will help you lose weight, especially in the short term. However, like all fad diets like these, research has shown that longer term people almost invariably return to their normal or slightly modified diet. If you are an athlete who trains regularly, my advice is to ensure you work with an accredited sports dietitian to ensure you are getting the energy and nutrients you need to train and perform. They can also advise you as to the ‘ideal’ weight for you and your sport or event. Finally, I’d like to finish with a quote from a recent article on diet fad that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association. For me it says it all: “the ongoing diet debate exposes the public to mixed messages…..that heavily reinforces a fad diet industry that derives billions of dollars from a nation that is not getting healthier”. The solution is not the latest and greatest fad diet but a well-balanced diet that focuses on your training needs, your body weight, your gender and your age. For the most-detailed discussion on nutritional needs of the masters athlete, see Chapter 16 of my book The Masters Athlete. Chapter 17 of the same book also presents the only scientifically-based chapter I have seen on Weight Control and the Masters Athlete.

Sources: 1. Rosenbloom, C. (2014). Popular diets and athletes. Nutrition Today, 49(5): 244-248. 2. Pagoto, S. and Applehans, B. (2013). A call for an end to the diet debates. Journal of the American Medical Association, 310(7): 8687-8688.

 

Supplementing with Probiotics Reduces Risk of Sore Throats in Physically Active Adults

Introduction

How often do we hear stories of people getting sore throats or ‘the cold’ leading into or following a major sporting goal or event. Research has shown that most adults get 2-3 of these a year and the older we get, the more of them we get. There is no doubt that the physical and emotional stress lowers the functioning of the immune system leading into the event. It also doesn’t help to be exposed to 100’s or 1000’s of people during and after racing – another time our immune system is compromised! Here is some new Aussie research suggesting that taking probiotics can help reduce upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) in physically active adults.

The Research

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines probiotics as live micro-organisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. Probiotic foods include dairy foods including yoghurt, cheese, and acidophilus milk (eg Yakult) as well as non-dairy foods such as olives, gherkins, sauerkraut and probiotic drinks and supplements that are increasing in popularity. The researchers from a number of research institutions including Griffith University in Queensland and the Australian Institute of Sport conducted a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial (this means well-controlled study!). 465 male and female adults aged between 18 and 60 years who exercise a minimum of three times a week for 30 minutes for 3 months took part. They were assigned to one of three groups:

  1. Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis group
  2. Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis group
  3. Placebo group

Patterns of illness were determined via a web-based questionnaire. Signs and symptoms of URTI included a scratchy or sore throat, sneezing, and a stuffy or runny nose. URTI was diagnosed when two or more of these symptoms were recorded for three or more consecutive days.  The researchers also monitored gut upsets such as diarrhoea, constipation, tummy rumbles, nausea and abdominal pain but did not get enough people experiencing these to do an analysis on gut upsets.

The Results

The risk of an URTI episode was significantly reduced by 27% in the Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis group. While it wasn’t statistically significant, the combined probiotic of Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis did reduce the risk of URTI too. Importantly in this study, those taking both probiotics also delayed getting URTIs compared to the placebo group by about 3 weeks.

The So What?

While I don’t advocate or push products through my website, I do like to ‘bridge the gap’ between science and masters sport. In Australia the two probiotics listed above are available as a product called Inner Health Plus. The study reported here showed that risk of an URTI episode was significantly reduced by about 25% by taking probiotics.  Interestingly, taking vitamin C, something most of us are aware of to fight colds, only reduces the risk of getting a common cold by about 3%. Those taking the probiotics in this study also delayed getting URTIs compared to the placebo group. Be aware that probiotics take about 10-14 days to colonise the gut so if you plan to use them leading into an event, travel, or the winter months, plan ahead. For plenty of great ideas on how to stay healthy and well as an athlete over 30 years of age, chapter 14 (Staying healthy and illness-free) of my book The Masters Athlete has heaps of great scientifically-proven tips to stay healthy while training hard and often.

Source: West, N. and others (2013) Probiotic supplementation for respiratory and gastrointestinal illness symptoms in healthy physically active individuals.  Clinical Nutrition (published ahead of print).