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Michael Tieland, Lex B. Verdijk, Lisette C.P.G.M. de Groot, and Luc J.C. van Loon


Although handgrip strength is considered a strong predictor of negative health outcomes, it is unclear whether handgrip strength represents a useful measure to evaluate changes in muscle strength following resistance-type exercise training in older people. We assessed whether measuring handgrip strength provides proper insight in the efficacy of resistance-type exercise training to increase muscle mass, strength, and physical performance in frail older people.


Prefrail and frail older people (≥ 65 y) were either conducting a 24-week resistance-type exercise training or no exercise training. Before, during, and after the intervention, handgrip strength (JAMAR), lean body mass (DXA), leg strength (1-RM), and physical performance (SPPB) were assessed.


Handgrip strength correlated with appendicular lean mass (r = 0.68; p < .001) and leg strength (r = 0.67; p < .001). After 24 weeks of whole body resistance-type exercise training, leg extension strength improved significantly better when compared with the control group (57 ± 2–78 ± 3 kg vs 57 ± 3–65 ± 3 kg: p < .001). Moreover, physical performance improved significantly more in the exercise group (8.0 ± 0.4–9.3 ± 0.4 points) when compared with the control group (8.3 ± 0.4–8.9 ± 0.4 points: p < .05). These positive changes were not accompanied with any significant changes in handgrip strength (26.3 ± 1.2–27.6 ± 1.2 kg in the exercise group vs 26.6 ± 1.2–26.3 ± 1.3 kg in the control group: p = .71).


Although handgrip strength strongly correlates with muscle mass and leg strength in frail older people, handgrip strength does not provide a valid means to evaluate the efficacy of exercise intervention programs to increase muscle mass or strength in an older population.

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Milou Beelen, Jort Berghuis, Ben Bonaparte, Sam B. Ballak, Asker E. Jeukendrup, and Luc J.C van Loon

It has been reported previously that mouth rinsing with a carbohydrate-containing solution can improve cycling performance. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the impact of such a carbohydrate mouth rinse on exercise performance during a simulated time trial in a more practical, postprandial setting. Fourteen male endurance-trained athletes were selected to perform 2 exercise tests in the morning after consuming a standardized breakfast. They performed an ~1-hr time trial on a cycle ergometer while rinsing their mouths with either a 6.4% maltodextrin solution (CHO) or water (PLA) after every 12.5% of the set amount of work. Borg’s rating of perceived exertion (RPE) was assessed after every 25% of the set amount of work, and power output and heart rate were recorded continuously throughout the test. Performance time did not differ between treatments and averaged 68.14 ± 1.14 and 67.52 ± 1.00 min in CHO and PLA, respectively (p = .57). In accordance, average power output (265 ± 5 vs. 266 ± 5 W, p = .58), heart rate (169 ± 2 vs. 168 ± 2 beats/min, p = .43), and RPE (16.4 ± 0.3 vs. 16.7 ± 0.3 W, p = .26) did not differ between treatments. Furthermore, after dividing the trial into 8s, no differences in power output, heart rate, or perceived exertion were observed over time between treatments. Carbohydrate mouth rinsing does not improve time-trial performance when exercise is performed in a practical, postprandial setting.

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Jorn Trommelen, Milou Beelen, Marjan Mullers, Martin J. Gibala, Luc J.C. van Loon, and Naomi M. Cermak

Carbohydrate mouth rinsing during exercise has been suggested to enhance performance of short (45–60 min) bouts of high-intensity (>75% VO2peak) exercise. Recent studies indicate that this performance enhancing effect may be dependent on the prandial state of the athlete. The purpose of this study was to define the impact of a carbohydrate mouth rinse on ~1-hr time trial performance in both the fasted and fed states. Using a double-blind, crossover design, 14 trained male cyclists (27 ± 6 years; 5.0 ± 0.5 W·kg−1) were selected to perform 4 time trials of ~1 hr (1,032 ± 127 kJ) on a cycle ergometer while rinsing their mouths with a 6.4% sucrose solution (SUC) or a noncaloric sweetened placebo (PLA) for 5 s at the start and at every 12.5% of their set amount of work completed. Two trials were performed in an overnight fasted state and two trials were performed 2 h after consuming a standardized breakfast. Performance time did not differ between any of the trials (fasted-PLA: 68.6 ± 7.2; fasted-SUC: 69.6 ± 7.5; fed-PLA: 67.6 ± 6.6; and fed-SUC: 69.0 ± 6.3 min; Prandial State × Mouth Rinse Solution p = .839; main effect prandial state p = .095; main effect mouth rinse solution p = .277). In line, mean power output and heart rate during exercise did not differ between trials. In conclusion, a sucrose mouth rinse does not improve ~1-hr time trial performance in well-trained cyclists when performed in either the fasted or the fed state.

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James A. Betts, Milou Beelen, Keith A. Stokes, Wim H.M. Saris, and Luc J.C. van Loon

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.

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Brandon J. Shad, Janice L. Thompson, James Mckendry, Andrew M. Holwerda, Yasir S. Elhassan, Leigh Breen, Luc J.C. van Loon, and Gareth A. Wallis

The impact of resistance exercise frequency on muscle protein synthesis rates remains unknown. The aim of this study was to compare daily myofibrillar protein synthesis rates over a 7-day period of low-frequency (LF) versus high-frequency (HF) resistance exercise training. Nine young men (21 ± 2 years) completed a 7-day period of habitual physical activity (BASAL). This was followed by a 7-day exercise period of volume-matched, LF (10 × 10 repetitions at 70% one-repetition maximum, once per week) or HF (2 × 10 repetitions at ∼70% one-repetition maximum, five times per week) resistance exercise training. The participants had one leg randomly allocated to LF and the other to HF. Skeletal muscle biopsies and daily saliva samples were collected to determine myofibrillar protein synthesis rates using 2H2O, with intracellular signaling determined using Western blotting. The myofibrillar protein synthesis rates did not differ between the LF (1.46 ± 0.26%/day) and HF (1.48 ± 0.33%/day) conditions over the 7-day exercise training period (p > .05). There were no significant differences between the LF and HF conditions over the first 2 days (1.45 ± 0.41%/day vs. 1.25 ± 0.46%/day) or last 5 days (1.47 ± 0.30%/day vs. 1.50 ± 0.41%/day) of the exercise training period (p > .05). Daily myofibrillar protein synthesis rates were not different from BASAL at any time point during LF or HF (p > .05). The phosphorylation status and total protein content of selected proteins implicated in skeletal muscle ribosomal biogenesis were not different between conditions (p > .05). Under the conditions of the present study, resistance exercise training frequency did not modulate daily myofibrillar protein synthesis rates in young men.

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Cindy M.T. van der Avoort, Luc J.C. van Loon, Lex B. Verdijk, Paul P.C. Poyck, Dick T.J. Thijssen, and Maria T.E. Hopman

Previous studies have used supplements to increase dietary nitrate intake in clinical populations. Little is known about whether effects can also be induced through vegetable consumption. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess the impact of dietary nitrate, through nitrate-rich vegetables (NRV) and beetroot juice (BRJ) supplementation, on plasma nitrate and nitrite concentrations, exercise tolerance, muscle oxygenation, and cardiovascular function in patients with peripheral arterial disease. In a randomized crossover design, 18 patients with peripheral arterial disease (age: 73 ± 8 years) followed a nitrate intake protocol (∼6.5 mmol) through the consumption of NRV, BRJ, and nitrate-depleted BRJ (placebo). Blood samples were taken, blood pressure and arterial stiffness were measured in fasted state and 150 min after intervention. Each intervention was followed by a maximal walking exercise test to determine claudication onset time and peak walking time. Gastrocnemius oxygenation was measured by near-infrared spectroscopy. Blood samples were taken and blood pressure was measured 10 min after exercise. Mean plasma nitrate and nitrite concentrations increased (nitrate; Time × Intervention interaction; p < .001), with the highest concentrations after BRJ (494 ± 110 μmol/L) compared with NRV (202 ± 89 μmol/L) and placebo (80 ± 19 μmol/L; p < .001). Mean claudication onset time and peak walking time did not differ between NRV (413 ± 187 s and 745 ± 220 s, respectively), BRJ (392 ± 154 s and 746 ± 176 s), and placebo (403 ± 176 s and 696 ± 222 s) (p = .762 and p = .165, respectively). Gastrocnemius oxygenation, blood pressure, and arterial stiffness were not affected by the intervention. NRV and BRJ intake markedly increase plasma nitrate and nitrite, but this does not translate to improved exercise tolerance, muscle oxygenation, and/or cardiovascular function.

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Andrew M. Holwerda, Freek G. Bouwman, Miranda Nabben, Ping Wang, Janneau van Kranenburg, Annemie P. Gijsen, Jatin G. Burniston, Edwin C.M. Mariman, and Luc J.C. van Loon

Physical activity increases muscle protein synthesis rates. However, the impact of exercise on the coordinated up- and/or downregulation of individual protein synthesis rates in skeletal muscle tissue remains unclear. The authors assessed the impact of exercise on mixed muscle, myofibrillar, and mitochondrial protein synthesis rates as well as individual protein synthesis rates in vivo in rats. Adult Lewis rats either remained sedentary (n = 3) or had access to a running wheel (n = 3) for the last 2 weeks of a 3-week experimental period. Deuterated water was injected and subsequently administered in drinking water over the experimental period. Blood and soleus muscle were collected and used to assess bulk mixed muscle, myofibrillar, and mitochondrial protein synthesis rates using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry and individual muscle protein synthesis rates using liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (i.e., dynamic proteomic profiling). Wheel running resulted in greater myofibrillar (3.94 ± 0.26 vs. 3.03 ± 0.15%/day; p < .01) and mitochondrial (4.64 ± 0.24 vs. 3.97 ± 0.26%/day; p < .05), but not mixed muscle (2.64 ± 0.96 vs. 2.38 ± 0.62%/day; p = .71) protein synthesis rates, when compared with the sedentary condition. Exercise impacted the synthesis rates of 80 proteins, with the difference from the sedentary condition ranging between −64% and +420%. Significantly greater synthesis rates were detected for F1-ATP synthase, ATP synthase subunit alpha, hemoglobin, myosin light chain-6, and synaptopodin-2 (p < .05). The skeletal muscle protein adaptive response to endurance-type exercise involves upregulation of mitochondrial protein synthesis rates, but it is highly coordinated as reflected by the up- and downregulation of various individual proteins across different bulk subcellular protein fractions.

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Andrew M. Holwerda, Jorn Trommelen, Imre W.K. Kouw, Joan M. Senden, Joy P.B. Goessens, Janneau van Kranenburg, Annemie P. Gijsen, Lex B. Verdijk, and Luc J.C. van Loon

Protein ingestion and exercise stimulate myofibrillar protein synthesis rates. When combined, exercise further increases the postprandial rise in myofibrillar protein synthesis rates. It remains unclear whether protein ingestion with or without exercise also stimulates muscle connective tissue protein synthesis rates. The authors assessed the impact of presleep protein ingestion on overnight muscle connective tissue protein synthesis rates at rest and during recovery from resistance-type exercise in older men. Thirty-six healthy, older men were randomly assigned to ingest 40 g intrinsically L-[1-13C]-phenylalanine and L-[1-13C]-leucine-labeled casein protein (PRO, n = 12) or a nonprotein placebo (PLA, n = 12) before going to sleep. A third group performed a single bout of resistance-type exercise in the evening before ingesting 40 g intrinsically-labeled casein protein prior to sleep (EX+PRO, n = 12). Continuous intravenous infusions of L-[ring- 2H5]-phenylalanine and L-[1-13C]-leucine were applied with blood and muscle tissue samples collected throughout overnight sleep. Presleep protein ingestion did not increase muscle connective tissue protein synthesis rates (0.049 ± 0.013 vs. 0.060 ± 0.024%/hr in PLA and PRO, respectively; p = .73). Exercise plus protein ingestion resulted in greater overnight muscle connective tissue protein synthesis rates (0.095 ± 0.022%/hr) when compared with PLA and PRO (p < .01). Exercise increased the incorporation of dietary protein-derived amino acids into muscle connective tissue protein (0.036 ± 0.013 vs. 0.054 ± 0.009 mole percent excess in PRO vs. EX+PRO, respectively; p < .01). In conclusion, resistance-type exercise plus presleep protein ingestion increases overnight muscle connective tissue protein synthesis rates in older men. Exercise enhances the utilization of dietary protein-derived amino acids as precursors for de novo muscle connective tissue protein synthesis during overnight sleep.

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Devin G. McCarthy, Jack Bone, Matthew Fong, Phillippe J.M. Pinckaers, William Bostad, Douglas L. Richards, Luc J.C. van Loon, and Martin J. Gibala

Acute ketone monoester (KE) supplementation can alter exercise responses, but the performance effect is unclear. The limited and equivocal data to date are likely related to factors including the KE dose, test conditions, and caliber of athletes studied. We tested the hypothesis that mean power output during a 20-min cycling time trial (TT) would be different after KE ingestion compared to a placebo (PL). A sample size of 22 was estimated to provide 80% power to detect an effect size d z of 0.63 at an alpha level of .05 with a two-tailed paired t test. This determination considered 2.0% as the minimal important difference in performance. Twenty-three trained cyclists (N = 23; peak oxygen uptake: 65 ± 12 ml·kg−1 min−1; M ± SD), who were regularly cycling >5 hr/week, completed a familiarization trial followed by two experimental trials. Participants self-selected and replicated their diet and exercise for ∼24 hr before each trial. Participants ingested either 0.35 g/kg body mass of (R)-3-hydroxybutyl (R)-3-hydroxybutyrate KE or a flavor-matched PL 30 min before exercise in a randomized, triple-blind, crossover manner. Exercise involved a 15-min warm-up followed by the 20-min TT on a cycle ergometer. The only feedback provided was time elapsed. Preexercise venous [β-hydroxybutyrate] was higher after KE versus PL (2.0 ± 0.6 vs. 0.2 ± 0.1 mM, p < .0001). Mean TT power output was 2.4% (0.6% to 4.1%; mean [95% confidence interval]) lower after KE versus PL (255 ± 54 vs. 261 ± 54 W, p < .01; d z  = 0.60). The mechanistic basis for the impaired TT performance after KE ingestion under the present study conditions remains to be determined.

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Jenna B. Gillen, Jorn Trommelen, Floris C. Wardenaar, Naomi Y.J. Brinkmans, Joline J. Versteegen, Kristin L. Jonvik, Christoph Kapp, Jeanne de Vries, Joost J.G.C. van den Borne, Martin J. Gibala, and Luc J.C. van Loon

Dietary protein intake should be optimized in all athletes to ensure proper recovery and enhance the skeletal muscle adaptive response to exercise training. In addition to total protein intake, the use of specific proteincontaining food sources and the distribution of protein throughout the day are relevant for optimizing protein intake in athletes. In the present study, we examined the daily intake and distribution of various proteincontaining food sources in a large cohort of strength, endurance and team-sport athletes. Well-trained male (n=327) and female (n=226) athletes completed multiple web-based 24-hr dietary recalls over a 2-4 wk period. Total energy intake, the contribution of animal- and plant-based proteins to daily protein intake, and protein intake at six eating moments were determined. Daily protein intake averaged 108±33 and 90±24 g in men and women, respectively, which corresponded to relative intakes of 1.5±0.4 and 1.4±0.4 g/kg. Dietary protein intake was correlated with total energy intake in strength (r=0.71, p <.001), endurance (r=0.79, p <.001) and team-sport (r=0.77, p <.001) athletes. Animal and plant-based sources of protein intake was 57% and 43%, respectively. The distribution of protein intake was 19% (19±8 g) at breakfast, 24% (25±13 g) at lunch and 38% (38±15 g) at dinner. Protein intake was below the recommended 20 g for 58% of athletes at breakfast, 36% at lunch and 8% at dinner. In summary, this survey of athletes revealed they habitually consume > 1.2 g protein/kg/d, but the distribution throughout the day may be suboptimal to maximize the skeletal muscle adaptive response to training.