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Protein and Fatigue

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A study that should be of interest to USMS members, especially since many are also triathletes, has recently been published (The Effect of Higher than Recommended Protein Feedings Post-Exercise on Recovery Following Downhill Running in Masters Triathletes by Doering TM et al. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, in Press, August 2016). The investigators determine the effect of high versus moderate protein intake on the decrease in muscle function and fatigue following intensive exercise in a group of masters triathletes. This is a question of interest to all masters athletes since recent scientific data have suggested that the rate of both muscle repair and remodeling following exercise induced muscle damage become slower as we age.
The study was conducted with 8 male masters triathletes (average age of ~52 2 years). Each subject underwent two trials where they received specified amounts of protein during the recovery from morning testing periods. The order of the trials was randomized and during one they received a total of 1.05 g/kg (moderate protein intake [MPI]), while during the other they received 1.95 g/kg (high protein intake [HPI]).
The cycling time trial performance was not differentially affected by HPI compared to MPI, so it does not appear that the HPI significantly benefited cycling performance. In both trials the afternoon peak isometric torque was decreased in comparison to the morning value but in the HPI trials the decrease in peak isometric torque was significantly less than that seen in the MPI trial, resulting in a moderate beneficial effect. Additionally, the individual perception ratings indicated that HPI provided a large beneficial effect on fatigue: reducing the fatigue that the subjects felt in the afternoon after the 30 minute run earlier in the day much more than the MPI.
The authors conclude that, in comparison with MPI, HPI accelerates recovery of muscle function and lowers perceptions of fatigue. The three protein boluses of MPI each contained ~0.3 g/kg of whey protein. For a 70 kg person (the standard size of an average adult male) this would equal about 20 grams of protein, which is the amount you would see recommended on the label of a protein supplement. So, if you usually drink about three glasses of protein supplement (each glass separated by about 2 hours) following an intense swimming event; then if you double the amount of protein supplement in each serving you would be taking in the rough equivalent to the HPI used in this study. This study suggests that this could be helpful to decrease your perception of fatigue and accelerate the recovery of your muscle function. However, as we age we also need to keep in mind the total number of calories we are ingesting via the protein supplement and maybe adjust our caloric intake in the rest of our diets so we are not taking in more calories than we need.

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Tags: protein, recovery