Coingestion of protein and carbohydrate in the early recovery phase, compared with carbohydrate only, improves endurance performance despite similar glycogen degradation and AMPK phosphorylation

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  • Marius A. Dahl, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences
  • ,
  • José Lisandro Areta, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University
  • ,
  • Per Bendix Jeppesen
  • Jesper Bratz Birk, University of Copenhagen
  • ,
  • Egil I. Johansen, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences
  • ,
  • Thorsten Ingemann-Hansen
  • ,
  • Mette Hansen
  • Bjørn Steen Skålhegg, University of Oslo
  • ,
  • John L. Ivy, University of Texas at Austin
  • ,
  • Jørgen F.P. Wojtaszewski, University of Copenhagen
  • ,
  • Kristian Overgaard
  • Jørgen Jensen, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, University of Copenhagen

The present study compared the effects of postexercise carbohydrate plus protein (CHO+PROT) and carbohydrate (CHO)-only supplementation on muscle glycogen metabolism, anabolic cell signaling, and subsequent exercise performance. Nine endurance-trained males cycled twice to exhaustion (muscle glycogen decreased from ~495 to ~125 mmol/kg dry wt) and received either CHO only (1.2 g·kg-1·h-1) or CHO+PROT (0.8/0.4 g·kg-1·h-1) during the first 90 min of recovery. Glycogen content was similar before the performance test after 5 h of recovery. Glycogen synthase (GS) fractional activity increased after exhaustive exercise and remained activated 5 h after, despite substantial glycogen synthesis (176.1 ± 19.1 and 204.6 ± 27.0 mmol/kg dry wt in CHO and CHO+PROT, respectively; P = 0.15). Phosphorylation of GS at site 3 and site 2+2a remained low during recovery. After the 5-h recovery, cycling time to exhaustion was improved by CHO+PROT supplementation compared with CHO supplementation (54.6 ± 11.0 vs. 46.1 ± 9.8 min; P = 0.009). After the performance test, muscle glycogen was equally reduced in CHO+PROT and CHO. Akt Ser473 and p70s6k Thr389 phosphorylation was elevated after 5 h of recovery. There were no differences in Akt Ser473, p70s6k Thr389, or TSC2 Thr1462 phosphorylation between treatments. Nitrogen balance was positive in CHO+PROT (19.6 ± 7.6 mg nitrogen/kg; P = 0.04) and higher than CHO (-10.7 ± 6.3 mg nitrogen/kg; P = 0.009). CHO+PROT supplementation during exercise recovery improved subsequent endurance performance relative to consuming CHO only. This improved performance after CHO+PROT supplementation could not be accounted for by differences in glycogen metabolism or anabolic cell signaling, but may have been related to differences in nitrogen balance.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Endurance athletes competing consecutive days need optimal dietary intake during the recovery period. We report that coingestion of protein and carbohydrate soon after exhaustive exercise, compared with carbohydrate only, resulted in better performance the following day. The better performance after coingestion of protein and carbohydrate was not associated with a higher rate of glycogen synthesis or activation of anabolic signaling compared with carbohydrate only. Importantly, nitrogen balance was positive after coingestion of protein and carbohydrate, which was not the case after intake of carbohydrate only, suggesting that protein synthesis contributes to the better performance the following day.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985)
Pages (from-to)297-310
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

    Research areas

  • Akt/PKB, exercise, glycogen synthase, nitrogen balance, protein synthesis

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