Wheying up the benefits of ricotta

Thursday, 09 March, 2006

Ricotta cheese could provide Commonwealth Games athletes with an alternative to the "rocket fuel and designer drinks' now popular with muscle men, gym junkies and fitness fanatics.

The claims come as groundbreaking Deakin University research shows whey protein from dairy foods helps muscle recovery after a bout of exercise. And an easy found source of whey protein can be found in ricotta cheese.

Associate Professor David Cameron-Smith gave 32 men either 25g whey protein or a flavoured water-based drink after strength-training exercise. Those men who consumed the dairy protein five minutes after exercise experienced greater muscle recovery.

The Melbourne scientists will present the results of this exciting research to sports scientists at the Commonwealth International Sports Conference on 12 March in Melbourne " just prior to the start of the Commonwealth Games.

Associate Professor David Cameron-Smith said: "Whey protein has typically been dismissed by sports scientists and dietitians as something only taken by body builders and gym junkies."

But according to the Melbourne researcher, whey protein is ideal for muscle recovery.

"It is quickly digested by the body and provides an ideal mix of high quality amino acids," he said.

"Many athletes will not be aware that specific dairy proteins can help muscles refuel after training or an event. Good recovery habits after exercise can reduce fatigue and enhance sports performance," he added.

Dairy Australia dietitian Maree Garside said: "Ricotta cheese is a tasty and versatile food that contains the type of protein that helps regenerate tired muscles after sport. Other dairy foods " like milk and yogurt " provide smaller amounts of whey protein along with much needed fluid and carbohydrate."

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