Breast Fed Cyclists - Are They Quicker?

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Those of you who have had children might recognize the word 'Colostrum' and if the baby stage of your parenting is not so long ago, you might also recall that is was somehow involved in a debate about the benefits of breast-feeding versus bottle-feeding.
An unlikely link However, you might not expect to find Colostrum and Cycling mentioned in the same sentence! Just to recap: Colostrum is the very first milk produced by mothers in the first few months of after birth and is rich in antibodies and other nutritional food which is beneficial to a new-born baby.
The debate about breast-feeding centred around the point that many mothers find bottle-feeding more convenient, but that it might not give babies as good a start in life as breast-feeding, which initially includes the Colostrum.
What's it got to do with Cycling ? Anyway, back to cycling.
It turns out that Colostrum has been identified as a potential nutritional aid for cyclists.
There are several reasons for this.
Potential Benefits Firstly, it has natural anabolic properties which may give signals to the body to repair and grow muscles, without the risk of upsetting hormone balance.
These are basically working in the same way as for infants and obviously don't carry the potential risks of artificially produced steroids.
Secondly, Colostrum contains a mix of carbohydrates and protein including particular amino-acids which make it a good energy supply for muscle being built or in recovery.
Then there is the fact that the antibodies present naturally attack bacteria, viruses and yeasts and may therefore help in protecting against flu or colds by giving the immune system a boost.
For competitive cyclists where fitness is a continuous process, that is very important.
Also present are anti-inflammatory components including some which may aid digestion.
All in all, a package of properties that may help cyclists in a variety of ways in trying to increase performance and recovery.
How do you get it? By now you might be wondering where on earth a supply of Colostrum is going to come from if you wanted some; but don't let your imagination get carried away! It turns out that it is being extracted commercially from calves milk that's produced by the mother in the first 48-72 hours of birth.
So it doesn't involve any weird behaviour like that in the Little Britain sketch! (Try 'Little Britain bitty' on YouTube if you've never seen it - not to everyone's taste though).
Who uses it? Colostrum already has a following in sport and cycling and some top riders already use it.
It's available from several suppliers, such as Maximuscle and Science in Sport including a low lactose version.
Recommendations are to take it daily, although this can be costly and has not yet been backed up by conclusive proof that it works.
Some cyclists swear by it, but its early days to expect any definitive research results.
However, users may well take the view that if they are going to consume a recovery drink, they may as well choose one that is natural and has additional benefits on top of just pure energy and protein content.
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