Endurance athletes are used to taking in a lot of
after exercise to promote recovery of glycogen.
It is becoming increasing apparent that they can benefit from protein as well. Studies indicate that high quality protein can stimulate
muscle protein synthesis after both resistance and endurance exercise. With new technologies researchers are able to specify which proteins in muscle are being affected by protein ingestion by assessing myofibrillar (contractile proteins) versus mitochondrial (proteins responsible for aerobic metabolism). In this recent study, highly trained cyclists exercised for 90 min on two occasions. Immediately after exercise and then again 30 min later they consumed 25 grams of
(50 grams total). During one of the trials they added 10 grams of whey protein isolate to the carbs providing a total of 20 grams protein. As expected only the carb-protein trial resulted in increased levels of amino acids in the blood. The rate of mitochondrial protein synthesis was not different between trials. However, contractile muscle protein synthesis was 35% greater during the carb-protein trial relative to the carb only trial. The results point to the importance of adding protein to recovery drinks for endurance athletes for the purpose of increasing myofibrillar protein synthesis. This may be important to ensure optimal recovery and maintenance of force producing capacity.
Breen L, Philp A, Witard OC, Jackman SR, Selby A, Smith K, Baar K, Tipton KD. The influence of carbohydrate-protein co-ingestion following endurance exercise on myofibrillar and mitochondrial protein synthesis. J Physiol. 2011 Jul 11.