New sports drink claims to help endurance athletes avoid hitting the ‘wall’
Ketone supplement shown to help competitive cyclists add distance in a workout. In other news: a study links a woman’s age at first menstruation to her chances of living beyond 90
A sports drink that claims to help endurance athletes avoid hitting the proverbial “wall” and feel less achy post-exercise could soon be available. The supplement, developed by University of Oxford scientists, has shown in a study of 39 highly trained cyclists to add up to two per cent more distance in a 30-minute workout.
Originally developed for soldiers, the drink works by temporarily switching the primary source of cellular energy from glucose or fat to ketones – molecules derived from fat that are known to be elevated in people consuming a low-carb diet. “It’s really interesting; with a single drink of nutritional ketone you can do the same exercise with completely different metabolism,” says Dr Pete Cox, a clinician at Oxford and first author on the paper published in Cell Metabolism.
The researchers found that the cyclists’ muscles use ketones when provided in the diet, and that this uptake increases in proportion to the intensity of exercise. In one experiment, the researchers gave the cyclists “energy drinks”, each infused with a different source of fuel – carbohydrates, fats or ketones. They found that cyclists who had the ketone drink had the lowest levels of lactate, a by-product of the body’s breakdown of glucose often associated with muscular stress.
“The ketone itself is inhibiting glycolysis, so that with the same exercise you’re preserving glycogen and producing much less lactic acid – this hasn’t been seen before,” says Oxford biochemist Professor Kieran Clarke. “What may be happening is if you are doing something that isn’t a sprint, like going [for a marathon], you won’t hit the wall as quickly. Not only that, but it stops you from aching afterwards.”
Women with more than 40 reproductive years more likely to live to 90
Women who start menstruation and experience menopause later in life may have increased chances of surviving nine decades, according to a new study by the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.
“Achieving longevity is an overarching public health goal with so many of us asking ‘how do I live longer?’ Our study found that women who started menstruation at age 12 or older, experienced menopause, either naturally or surgically, at age 50 or older and had more than 40 reproductive years had increased odds of living to 90 years old,” says Aladdin Shadyab of the university’s Department of Family Medicine and Public Health.
Of the approximately 16,000 participants in the racially and ethnically diverse study group, 55 per cent survived to age 90. Women who started menstruation and experienced menopause at a later age were also less likely to be smokers or have a history of diabetes.
Paintings suggest historical love affair with indulgent foods
Our desire for indulgent meals may be more than 500 years old. A new analysis of European paintings by Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab shows that meat and bread were among the most commonly depicted foods in paintings of meals from the 16th century. “Crazy meals involving less-than-healthy foods aren’t a modern craving,” explains lead author Brian Wansink, director of the lab. “Paintings from what’s sometimes called the Renaissance period were loaded with the foods modern diets warn us about – salt, sausages, bread and more bread.”
For the study, published in Sage Open, researchers started with 750 food paintings from the past 500 years and focused on 140 paintings of family meals. Of the 36 “Renaissance Period” paintings, 86 per cent depicted bread and 61 per cent depicted meat, while only 22 per cent showed vegetables.
Interestingly, the most commonly painted foods were not the most readily available foods of the time. For vegetables, it was an artichoke, lemon for fruits, and shellfish (usually lobster) for meats. These paintings often featured food that was indulgent, aspirational or aesthetically pleasing.
In the end, says co-author Andrew Weislogel, curator of Earlier European and American Art at Cornell University’s Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, “Our love affair with visually appealing, decadent, or status foods is nothing new. It was already well established 500 years ago.”