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Adv Nutr. 2013 Nov 6;4(6):657-64. doi: 10.3945/an.113.004572. eCollection 2013 Nov.

Optimizing intramuscular adaptations to aerobic exercise: effects of carbohydrate restriction and protein supplementation on mitochondrial biogenesis.

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Military Nutrition Division, United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, MA.


Mitochondrial biogenesis is a critical metabolic adaptation to aerobic exercise training that results in enhanced mitochondrial size, content, number, and activity. Recent evidence has shown that dietary manipulation can further enhance mitochondrial adaptations to aerobic exercise training, which may delay skeletal muscle fatigue and enhance exercise performance. Specifically, studies have demonstrated that combining carbohydrate restriction (endogenous and exogenous) with a single bout of aerobic exercise potentiates the beneficial effects of exercise on markers of mitochondrial biogenesis. Additionally, studies have demonstrated that high-quality protein supplementation enhances anabolic skeletal muscle intracellular signaling and mitochondrial protein synthesis following a single bout of aerobic exercise. Mitochondrial biogenesis is stimulated by complex intracellular signaling pathways that appear to be primarily regulated by 5'AMP-activated protein kinase and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase mediated through proliferator-activated γ receptor co-activator 1 α activation, resulting in increased mitochondrial DNA expression and enhanced skeletal muscle oxidative capacity. However, the mechanisms by which concomitant carbohydrate restriction and dietary protein supplementation modulates mitochondrial adaptations to aerobic exercise training remains unclear. This review summarizes intracellular regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis and the effects of carbohydrate restriction and protein supplementation on mitochondrial adaptations to aerobic exercise.

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