Colostrum Protein Supplements – Are They Beneficial For Athletes?

Protein in the diet can be used for all three main functions of food: as a component of the majority of body tissues, as a source of energy, and for regulating metabolism. For an athlete, it is not usual to intentionally use it for maintaining and building muscles instead of carbohydrates for energy. Adequate dietary protein is required for maintaining a positive protein balance to accomplish these tasks. Particular amino acids like leucine, isoleucine and valine, all of which are branched-chain amino acids or BCAA, make up a noteworthy amount of muscle tissue.

Branched-chain amino acid supplementation has been thought to improve athletic performance by decreasing protein breakdown and preventing adverse changes in neurotransmitter function. Studies on fatigue showed that prolonged exercise is linked to an increase in the levels of serotonin in the brain. A high free-tryptophan/BCAA ratio in the blood may lead to a greater production of serotonin and, consequently, to feelings of fatigue and perceived increased effort. It is also known that serum levels of BCAA, which are metabolized mainly in the muscles, drop during extended exercise. Research has demonstrated that taking oral BCAAs will increase serum levels and may be used as an energy fuel plus decrease protein breakdown during exercise.

Research has also shown that adding any amino acids into the blood facilitates the release of HGH or human growth hormone. The HGH stimulates production of IGF-1(insulin like growth factor) that promotes growth of tissue, including muscles. Oral intake of amino acids, such as glutamine, arginine, lysine or ornithine, in high doses may also increase these hormone levels, but may cause some gastric upset to go with it.

Bovine colostrum is another supplement under the protein category that is widely used to improve athletic performance. Studies showed that its use is within the safe parameters for adults. The main benefit from colostrum appears to be in its immunity enhancement and healing properties. It contains high levels of Immunoglobulin G, and lactopeptides to regulate the immune system. Colostrum protein capsules have also been proven to heal damages in the intestinal lining caused by anti-inflammatory drugs or ulcerative bowel conditions, and also proven to encourage growth of appropriate beneficial bacteria while destroying noxious bacteria and fungus. It contains growth-promoting factors that stimulate movement of amino acids into muscle cells, DNA synthesis, and cell division. The most potent colostrum is that which is collected within the first 24 hours, preferably the first 8 hours, after birth of the calf.

Normal protein intake runs about 0.8-1.4 grams per kg of body weight, while the suggested amount for those in training is from 1.6-2.8 grams per kg of body weight. The higher protein intake creates a more positive protein balance, plus gained body weight tends to be lean body mass. Since protein supplements are not all created equal, it is important to read the list of contents to be sure of the amount of protein, calories and carbs per serving. If weight gain is your priority, go for the highest calorie content with high protein. To stay lean, take the lactoferrin probiotics with highest protein with the fewest calories and fat. It should also be noted that increased protein in the diet may lead to more acidic urine and increased calcium excretion.  An average increase in dietary protein of 1 gram results in the loss of 1 mg of calcium in the urine, so it is important to ensure adequate calcium is included in the diet.

Protein supplementation is not a replacement for balanced, nutritious meals, but is an effective means for athletes in hard training to increase their protein intake without a lot of extra bulk, calories, fat or carbohydrates in their diet.


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