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Nutrition. 2018 Sep;53:34-37. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2018.01.015. Epub 2018 Feb 5.

Protein supplementation enhances cerebral oxygenation during exercise in elite basketball players.

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Laboratory of Exercise Biochemistry, University of Taipei, Taipei, Taiwan; Shih Hsin University, Taipei, Taiwan.
Competitor Institute of Sports Nutrition, Beijing, China.
Laboratory of Exercise Biochemistry, University of Taipei, Taipei, Taiwan.
Graduate Institute of Basic Medical Science, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan.
Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan; Faculty of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University School of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan.
Laboratory of Exercise Biochemistry, University of Taipei, Taipei, Taiwan. Electronic address:



The aim of the present study was to examine cerebral oxygenation during high-intensity exercise in elite basketball players who consumed supplements with different whey protein contents after a short postexercise recovery to determine whether changing whey protein content in carbohydrate-based supplementation influences cerebral hemodynamic response when the supplement was consumed during a 2-h recovery after a 1-h exercise challenge.


This was a randomized, counterbalanced crossover study. Fifteen Division 1 collegiate basketball players (18-20 y) consumed 6.25 kcal/kg of either high-protein (36% protein in total calorie) or an isocaloric low-protein (12% protein in total calorie) control supplement in a carbohydrate-based drink immediately after a 1-h cycling (70% of maximal oxygen consumption [VO2max]). After a 2-h rest, the athletes were challenged on a cycloergometer at 80% VO2max. Blood perfusion (total hemoglobin) and oxygen saturation of frontal brain were continuously measured by near-infrared spectroscopy during the cycling.


Before the cycloergometer test, high-protein supplementation increased peak insulin response and lowered glucose increases during the recovery compared with the low-protein trial. High-protein supplementation enhanced increases in cerebral oxygen saturation (P < 0.01) and attenuated increases in cerebral blood perfusion (total hemoglobin; P < 0.01) during the cycloergometer exercise; and resulted in a 16% longer cycling time (from 474 ± 49 s to 553 ± 78 s, P < 0.05), compared with the low-protein trial.


Enhanced fatigue recovery after consumption of a high-protein supplement is associated with enhanced cerebral oxygenation against exercise challenge, which spares brain blood demand for periphery.


Endurance performance; Frontal brain; Hemodynamic; NIRS; Whey protein

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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