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One whey to go for exercise performance recovery

It’s well known that adding protein supplementation to strength training improves gains over the long term. Supplementation’s effects in the short term are less well studied.

Study under review: Whey Protein Supplementation Enhances Whole Body Protein Metabolism and Performance Recovery after Resistance Exercise: A Double-Blind Crossover Study.

Introduction

Anyone who has ever worked out has experienced some degree of muscle soreness afterward. One reason why this occurs is due to muscle fiber damage after exercise, which results in varying degrees of soreness and decreased performance that can last hours or days[1]. The degree to which performance may decrease depends on the workout volume and intensity. An acute performance drop is a normal consequence of any training program. But for athletes, minimizing and quickly resolving these negative effects of training can help increase the amount of total training time. The more time an athlete can spend training, the better their chances are at improving in their respective sport.

One strategy for improved muscle recovery is to ensure you’re getting enough dietary protein to meet your physical activity demands. The thinking is that increased protein leads to increased positive protein balance (i.e. greater protein synthesis than breakdown) in the body, in turn resulting in more rapid recovery of muscle performance. While it’s important to get adequate amounts of protein in your diet, there’s more to protein than just consuming enough to help achieve your fitness goals. There are many strategies that can help maximize protein’s muscle-repairing effects. When paired with resistance training, protein has been shown to help increase muscle size and strength[2]. Ingestion before or after training may theoretically provide further benefit (although this benefit may be mitigated by consuming sufficient protein during your day[3]). Evenly distributing protein intake between meals[4] can further augment its anabolic effects. Consuming protein before you go to bed[5] may also cause a slight improvement in muscle protein synthesis (MPS) while you sleep. The type of protein is also important to amplifying the muscle protein synthetic response. For example, a rapidly digesting, leucine-rich, highly bioavailable whey protein has been seen to help boost MPS[6], making whey a preferable supplement for people aiming to maximize recovery and adaptations to resistance exercise.

The above strategies are often used by athletes in conjunction with one another. In fact, there is data to support the beneficial effects of protein supplementation on long-term improvements in muscular adaptations[7]. But less research has been done looking at how post-exercise protein ingestion may aid recovery acutely (e.g., less than 24 hours). The study under review aimed to quantify the extent to which post-workout protein supplementation could improve muscle performance recovery after a bout of strenuous resistance exercise.

It is important for athletes to minimize the acute negative effects of training to help maximize total training hours. One way to accomplish this requires strategic intake of protein: consuming enough of it and at the right times. Many studies have looked at the long-term effects of protein consumption on muscle repair, but fewer have looked at its effects in an acute period. This study looks to quantify the effect of supplemental protein on muscle performance post-exercise.

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