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Nestle Nutr Inst Workshop Ser. 2013;76:85-102. doi: 10.1159/000350261. Epub 2013 Jul 25.

The role of amino acids in skeletal muscle adaptation to exercise.

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University of California Davis, Davis, CA, USA.


The synthesis of new protein is necessary for both strength and endurance adaptations. While the proteins that are made might differ, myofibrillar proteins following resistance exercise and mitochondrial proteins and metabolic enzymes following endurance exercise, the basic premise of shifting to a positive protein balance after training is thought to be the same. What is less clear is the contribution of nutrition to the adaptive process. Following resistance exercise, proteins rich in the amino acid leucine increase the activation of mTOR, the rate of muscle protein synthesis (MPS), and the rate of muscle mass and strength gains. However, an effect of protein consumption during acute post-exercise recovery on mitochondrial protein synthesis has yet to be demonstrated. Protein ingestion following endurance exercise does facilitate an increase in skeletal MPS, supporting muscle repair, growth and remodeling. However, whether this results in improved performance has yet to be demonstrated. The current literature suggests that a strength athlete will experience an increased sensitivity to protein feeding for at least 24 h after exercise, but immediate consumption of 0.25 g/kg bodyweight of rapidly absorbed protein will enhance MPS rates and drive the skeletal muscle hypertrophic response. At rest, ∼0.25 g/kg bodyweight of dietary protein should be consumed every 4-5 h and another 0.25-0.5 g/kg bodyweight prior to sleep to facilitate the postprandial muscle protein synthetic response. In this way, consuming dietary protein can complement intense exercise training and facilitate the skeletal muscle adaptive response.

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