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PLoS One. 2016 Apr 14;11(4):e0153229. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153229. eCollection 2016.

Intake of Protein Plus Carbohydrate during the First Two Hours after Exhaustive Cycling Improves Performance the following Day.

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Department of Physical Performance, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, P.O. Box 4014 Ullevål Stadion, N-0806 Oslo, Norway.
ZIEL Institute for Food and Health, Technische Universiät München, Munich, Germany.
Department of Endocrinology and Internal Medicine, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.
Department of Health Science and Technology, Aalborg University, Ålborg, Denmark.
Exercise Physiology and Metabolism Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, United States of America.
Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Intake of protein immediately after exercise stimulates protein synthesis but improved recovery of performance is not consistently observed. The primary aim of the present study was to compare performance 18 h after exhaustive cycling in a randomized diet-controlled study (175 kJ·kg(-1) during 18 h) when subjects were supplemented with protein plus carbohydrate or carbohydrate only in a 2-h window starting immediately after exhaustive cycling. The second aim was to investigate the effect of no nutrition during the first 2 h and low total energy intake (113 kJ·kg(-1) during 18 h) on performance when protein intake was similar. Eight endurance-trained subjects cycled at 237±6 Watt (~72% VO2max) until exhaustion (TTE) on three occasions, and supplemented with 1.2 g carbohydrate·kg(-1)·h(-1) (CHO), 0.8 g carbohydrate + 0.4 g protein·kg(-1)·h(-1) (CHO+PRO) or placebo without energy (PLA). Intake of CHO+PROT increased plasma glucose, insulin, and branch chained amino acids, whereas CHO only increased glucose and insulin. Eighteen hours later, subjects performed another TTE at 237±6 Watt. TTE was increased after intake of CHO+PROT compared to CHO (63.5±4.4 vs 49.8±5.4 min; p<0.05). PLA reduced TTE to 42.8±5.1 min (p<0.05 vs CHO). Nitrogen balance was positive in CHO+PROT, and negative in CHO and PLA. In conclusion, performance was higher 18 h after exhaustive cycling with intake of CHO+PROT compared to an isocaloric amount of carbohydrate during the first 2 h post exercise. Intake of a similar amount of protein but less carbohydrate during the 18 h recovery period reduced performance.

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