Research shows that when you train at an intensity above 90% of your maximum heart rate or near exhaustion, your oxygen usage skyrockets, this in turn causes an increase in lactic acid accumulation in the muscles, which in turn cases your body to pull alkaline reserves from bones and other mineral dense sources. Not to mention muscle tissue being torn and Adenosine Triphosphate levels in the muscles becoming depleted. All in all, the body has a lot to cope with and as a result athletes often experience something known as an ‘immune system crash.’
This is where the efficiency of your immune system is reduced and can last for 3 hours or even 72 hours. The good news is the amino acid Glutamine has been proven to help boost the body’s immune system and help keep your training on the right path. As well as playing a vital role in cell volumisation and nitrogen transfer, it has also been shown to help the body’s immune system and aid recovery. In fact, research at the Conway Institute for Biomolecular and Biomedical Research at the University College of Dublin found the immune boosting properties of Glutamine were so impressive, it was used to treat patients with inflammatory conditions such as infection and injury. Experts recommend around 5 grams per day should greatly help to support a healthy immune system during periods of heavy training. 250g of Glutamine is available from Myprotein.com for £5.49
Regarding optimum recovery and growth after your workout, the key is what’s known as a nutrient window that follows immediately after your workout. This is basically when your muscles are especially receptive to nutrients since the blood flow to the exercised muscles remains high and muscle glycogen levels are depleted, so your muscles possess a ‘sponge like’ quality that absorb any nutrients you give it. The solution to optimizing recovery and growth in this case could include eating a small meal composed of protein with both simple and complex carbohydrates. However a high protein meal won't put significant levels of amino acids into your bloodstream until a couple of hours after you eat it, especially if blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract has been diminished by a hard training session. The solution may therefore be in the form of amino acids since they don't require digestion. The term 'free-form' means exactly that: they are free of chemical bonds to other molecules and so move quickly through the stomach and into the small intestine, where they're rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream.
As early as 1990, the Bulgarian national weightlifting team began trials to determine if free-form amino acids were a boost to muscular growth. The work was so successful that part of the study was replicated on the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center. Since then, top bodybuilders and powerlifters around the world today - including Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates, and 'Mr. Powerlifting' Ed Coan - have benefited from this new research.
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Padden-Jones D, et al. Amino acid ingestion improves muscle protein synthesis in the young and elderly. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Mar; 286(3): E321-8.
Rasmussen BB, Phillips SM. Contractile and nutritional regulation of human muscle growth. Exercise Sport Science Rev. 2003 Jul;31(3):127-31.
Rieu, Isabelle. Leucine supplementation improves muscle protein synthesis in elderly men independently of hyperaminoacidaemia. J. Physiol. 2006; 575; 305-15
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