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Carbohydrate ingestion after prolonged strenuous exercise enhances recovery, but protein might also be important. In a crossover with 2-wk washout, 10 cyclists completed 2.5 h of intervals followed by 4-h recovery feeding, provided 218 g protein, 435 g carbohydrate, and 79 g fat (protein enriched) or 34 g protein, 640 g carbohydrate, and 79 g fat (isocaloric control). The next morning, cyclists performed 10 maximal constant-work sprints on a Velotron cycle ergometer, each lasting ~2.5 min, at ~5-min intervals. Test validity was established and test reliability and the individual response to the protein-enriched condition estimated by 6 cyclists’ repeating the intervals, recovery feeding, and performance test 2 wk later in the protein-enriched condition. During the 4-h recovery, the protein-enriched feeding had unclear effects on mean concentrations of plasma insulin, cortisol, and growth hormone, but testosterone was 25% higher (90% confidence limits, ± 14%). Protein enrichment also reduced plasma creatine kinase by 33% (±38%) the next morning and reduced tiredness and leg-soreness sensations during the sprints, but effects on mean sprint power were unclear (–1.4%, ±4.3%). The between-subjects trial-to-trial coefficient of variation in overall mean sprint power was 3.1% (±3.4%), whereas the variation in the protein-enriched condition was 5.9% (±6.9%), suggesting that individual responses to the protein-enriched treatment contributed to the unclear performance outcome. To conclude, protein-enriched recovery feeding had no clear effect on next-day performance.

The authors are with the Institute of Food, Nutrition, and Human Health, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand.