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PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e20613. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020613. Epub 2011 Jun 20.

Beneficial effects of resistance exercise on glycemic control are not further improved by protein ingestion.

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  • 1School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom.



To investigate the mechanisms underpinning modifications in glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity 24 h after a bout of resistance exercise (RE) with or without protein ingestion.


Twenty-four healthy males were assigned to a control (CON; n = 8), exercise (EX; n = 8) or exercise plus protein condition (EX+PRO; n = 8). Muscle biopsy and blood samples were obtained at rest for all groups and immediately post-RE (75% 1RM, 8×10 repetitions of leg-press and extension exercise) for EX and EX+PRO only. At 24 h post-RE (or post-resting biopsy for CON), a further muscle biopsy was obtained. Participants then consumed an oral glucose load (OGTT) containing 2 g of [U-¹³C] glucose during an infusion of 6, 6-[²H₂] glucose. Blood samples were obtained every 10 min for 2 h to determine glucose kinetics. EX+PRO ingested an additional 25 g of intact whey protein with the OGTT. A final biopsy sample was obtained at the end of the OGTT.


Fasted plasma glucose and insulin were similar for all groups and were not different immediately post- and 24 h post-RE. Following RE, muscle glycogen was 26±8 and 19±6% lower in EX and EX+PRO, respectively. During OGTT, plasma glucose AUC was lower for EX and EX+PRO (75.1±2.7 and 75.3±2.8 mmol·L⁻¹∶120 min, respectively) compared with CON (90.6±4.1 mmol·L⁻¹∶120 min). Plasma insulin response was 13±2 and 21±4% lower for EX and CON, respectively, compared with EX+PRO. Glucose disappearance from the circulation was ∼12% greater in EX and EX+PRO compared with CON. Basal 24 h post-RE and insulin-stimulated PAS-AS160/TBC1D4 phosphorylation was greater for EX and EX+PRO.


Prior RE improves glycemic control and insulin sensitivity through an increase in the rate at which glucose is disposed from the circulation. However, co-ingesting protein during a high-glucose load does not augment this response at 24 h post-exercise in healthy, insulin-sensitive individuals.

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