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PLoS One. 2015 Sep 14;10(9):e0137183. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0137183. eCollection 2015.

Prolonged Adaptation to a Low or High Protein Diet Does Not Modulate Basal Muscle Protein Synthesis Rates - A Substudy.

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Department of Human Biology, School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.
Department of Human Movement Sciences, School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.



Based on controlled 36 h experiments a higher dietary protein intake causes a positive protein balance and a negative fat balance. A positive net protein balance may support fat free mass accrual. However, few data are available on the impact of more prolonged changes in habitual protein intake on whole-body protein metabolism and basal muscle protein synthesis rates.


To assess changes in whole-body protein turnover and basal muscle protein synthesis rates following 12 weeks of adaptation to a low versus high dietary protein intake.


A randomized parallel study was performed in 40 subjects who followed either a high protein (2.4 g protein/kg/d) or low protein (0.4 g protein/kg/d) energy-balanced diet (30/35/35% or 5/60/35% energy from protein/carbohydrate/fat) for a period of 12 weeks. A subgroup of 7 men and 8 women (body mass index: 22.8±2.3 kg/m2, age: 24.3±4.9 y) were selected to evaluate the impact of prolonged adaptation to either a high or low protein intake on whole body protein metabolism and basal muscle protein synthesis rates. After the diet, subjects received continuous infusions with L-[ring-2H5]phenylalanine and L-[ring-2H2]tyrosine in an overnight fasted state, with blood samples and muscle biopsies being collected to assess post-absorptive whole-body protein turnover and muscle protein synthesis rates in vivo in humans.


After 12 weeks of intervention, whole-body protein balance in the fasted state was more negative in the high protein treatment when compared with the low protein treatment (-4.1±0.5 vs -2.7±0.6 μmol phenylalanine/kg/h;P<0.001). Whole-body protein breakdown (43.0±4.4 vs 37.8±3.8 μmol phenylalanine/kg/h;P<0.03), synthesis (38.9±4.2 vs 35.1±3.6 μmol phenylalanine/kg/h;P<0.01) and phenylalanine hydroxylation rates (4.1±0.6 vs 2.7±0.6 μmol phenylalanine/kg/h;P<0.001) were significantly higher in the high vs low protein group. Basal muscle protein synthesis rates were maintained on a low vs high protein diet (0.042±0.01 vs 0.045±0.01%/h;P = 0.620).


In the overnight fasted state, adaptation to a low-protein intake (0.4 g/kg/d) does not result in a more negative whole-body protein balance and does not lower basal muscle protein synthesis rates when compared to a high-protein intake.


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