Today, we’re rolling back the clocks to 1892 to look at one of the first studies that kicked off the performance nutrition world…
The study was entitled ‘The value of sugar and the effect of smoking on muscular work’.
From this title alone, we can get an idea of where this is going…and 128 years later, we’re still saying the same fucking thing. lol.
I.e. that carbohydrate enhances exercise performance and that smoking probably isn’t the best for performance.
To test this, a professor by the name of Vaughan Harley carried out several experiments on himself. He investigated how the following diets impacted;
– The amount of weight he could lift before becoming fatigued.
– The amount of work accomplished in 30 muscular contractions.
The 5 diets were:
Diet A) Fasting
Diet B) Fasting + 500g of sugar
Diet C) Normal diet
Diet D) Normal diet + 500g sugar
Diet E) Normal diet + 4 cigars
For reference, the ‘normal diet’ was as follows:
8am: 2 rusks, cup of coffee with milk and no sugar.
2.30pm: Soup and bread, beef steak with vegetables, omelette with 0.25 litres of red wine and a small black coffee.
7pm: Fried sole, roast beef with veggies, quail and salad, peaches, bread, 0.25 litres of red wine and a small black coffee.
It’s safe to say that his diet wasn’t ‘optimal’ for performance, but still…here were his findings:
1) ‘Muscular exhaustion caused by fasting disappears immediately when taking on food’ – i.e. fasting sucks when looking to perform.
2) ‘It appears as if the will had to be trained to immediately yield its maximum nerve stimulus’ – i.e. mind muscle connection and appropriate level of arousal is needed for max performance.
3) ‘Nearly 60g of the amount taken would be absorbed in the first hour’ – i.e. 60g of a single source carb is the max we can absorb/hour.
4) ‘Onset of fatigue was retarded by the taking of 500 grams of sugar’ – Carbs were king in 1892, and they still are today!
5) ‘Sugar should no longer be regarded as a mere condiment but looked upon as one of the most useful articles of food’ – i.e. Fuel for the work required.
6) ‘Although not conclusive, smoking perhaps slightly diminishes muscular power and hastens the onset of fatigue’ – i.e. it’s still very bad for your health though…
Here’s my take on all this…
Back in 1892, this was seen as very groundbreaking stuff, and it’s taken over 100 years of research to get a pretty comprehensive understanding of this.
Think of it this way, despite a century of research showing the benefits of carbs and the detriments of fasting on performance, athletes still want to try keto and continue to massively under eat/fast when looking to perform.
So, when you ask what the lowedown is for a brand new supplement or strategy with only 1 or 2 studies to back it…we probably need a few more before we can be certain.
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