Nocturnal endocrine responses to exercise performed in the evening and the potential role of nutrition are poorly understood. To gain novel insight, 10 healthy men ingested carbohydrate with (C+P) and without (C) protein in a randomized order and double-blind manner during 2 hr of interval cycling followed by resistancetype exercise and into early postexercise recovery. Blood samples were obtained hourly throughout 9 hr of postexercise overnight recovery for analysis of key hormones. Muscle samples were taken from the vastus lateralis before and after exercise and then again the next morning (7 a.m.) to calculate mixed-muscle protein fractional synthetic rate (FSR). Overnight plasma hormone concentrations were converted into overall responses (expressed as area under the concentration curve) and did not differ between treatments for either growth hormone (1,464 ± 257 vs. 1,432 ± 164 pg/ml · 540 min) or total testosterone (18.3 ± 1.2 vs. 17.9 ± 1.2 nmol/L · 540 min, C and C+P, respectively). In contrast, the overnight cortisol response was higher with C+P (102 ± 11 nmol/L · 540 min) than with C (81 ± 8 nmol/L · 540 min; p = .02). Mixed-muscle FSR did not differ between C and C+P during overnight recovery (0.062% ± 0.006% and 0.062% ± 0.009%/hr, respectively) and correlated significantly with the plasma total testosterone response (r = .7, p < .01). No correlations with FSR were apparent for the response of growth hormone (r = –.2, p = .4), cortisol (r = .1, p = .6), or the ratio of testosterone to cortisol (r = .2, p = .5). In conclusion, protein ingestion during and shortly after exercise does not modulate the endocrine response or muscle protein synthesis during overnight recovery.
Betts and Stokes are with the Human Physiology Research Group, University of Bath, Bath, UK. Beelen, Saris, and van Loon are with the Dept. of Human Movement Sciences, Maastricht University Medical Center+, Maastricht, The Netherlands.