Adding Fish Oil to Whey Protein, Leucine, and Carbohydrate Over a Six-Week Supplementation Period Attenuates Muscle Soreness Following Eccentric Exercise in Competitive Soccer Players

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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Soccer players often experience eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage given the physical demands of soccer match-play. Since long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3PUFA) enhance muscle sensitivity to protein supplementation, dietary supplementation with a combination of fish oil–derived n-3PUFA, protein, and carbohydrate may promote exercise recovery. This study examined the influence of adding n-3PUFA to a whey protein, leucine, and carbohydrate containing beverage over a six-week supplementation period on physiological markers of recovery measured over three days following eccentric exercise. Competitive soccer players were assigned to one of three conditions (2 × 200 mL): a fish oil supplement beverage (FO; n = 10) that contained n-3PUFA (1100 mg DHA/EPA—approximately 550 mg DHA, 550 mg EPA), whey protein (15 g), leucine (1.8 g), and carbohydrate (20 g); a protein supplement beverage (PRO; n = 10) that contained whey protein (15 g), leucine (1.8 g), and carbohydrate (20 g); and a carbohydrate supplement beverage (CHO; n = 10) that contained carbohydrate (24 g). Eccentric exercise consisted of unilateral knee extension/flexion contractions on both legs separately. Maximal force production was impaired by 22% during the 72-hour recovery period following eccentric exercise (p < 0.05). Muscle soreness, expressed as area under the curve (AUC) during 72-hour recovery, was less in FO (1948 ± 1091 mm × 72 h) than PRO (4640 ± 2654 mm × 72 h, p < 0.05) and CHO (4495 ± 1853 mm × 72 h, p = 0.10). Blood concentrations of creatine kinase, expressed as AUC, were ~60% lower in FO compared to CHO (p < 0.05) and tended to be lower (~39%, p = 0.07) than PRO. No differences in muscle function, soccer performance, or blood c-reactive protein concentrations were observed between groups. In conclusion, the addition of n-3PUFA to a beverage containing whey protein, leucine, and carbohydrate ameliorates the increase in muscle soreness and blood concentrations of creatine kinase following eccentric exercise in competitive soccer players.

Philpott, Donnelly, MacKinley, Galloway, Tipton, and Witard are with the Physiology, Exercise, and Nutrition Research Group, Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, University of Stirling, Stirling, United Kingdom. Walshe is with the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. Dick is with the Nutrition Group, Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, Stirling, United Kingdom.

Address author correspondence to Oliver C. Witard at oliver.witard@stir.ac.uk.
International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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