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Free access

The Anabolic Response to Protein Ingestion During Recovery From Exercise Has No Upper Limit in Magnitude and Duration In Vivo in Humans: A Commentary

Oliver C. Witard and Samuel Mettler

A comprehensive recent study by Trommelen et al. demonstrated that muscle tissue exhibits a greater capacity to incorporate exogenous exogenous protein-derived amino acids into bound muscle protein than was previously appreciated, at least when measured in “anabolically sensitive,” recreationally active (but not resistance-trained), young men following resistance exercise. Moreover, this study demonstrated that the duration of the postprandial period is modulated by the dose of ingested protein contained within a meal, that is, the postexercise muscle protein synthesis response to protein ingestion was more prolonged in 100PRO than 25PRO. Both observations represent important scientific advances in the field of protein metabolism. However, we respectfully caution that the practical implications of these findings may have been misinterpreted, at least in terms of dismissing the concept of protein meal distribution as an important factor in optimizing muscle tissue anabolism and/or metabolic health. Moreover, based on emerging evidence, this idea that the anabolic response to protein ingestion has no upper limit does not appear to translate to resistance-trained young women.

Open access

Dietary Protein for Training Adaptation and Body Composition Manipulation in Track and Field Athletes

Oliver C. Witard, Ina Garthe, and Stuart M. Phillips

Track and field athletes engage in vigorous training that places stress on physiological systems requiring nutritional support for optimal recovery. Of paramount importance when optimizing recovery nutrition are rehydration and refueling which are covered in other papers in this volume. Here, we highlight the benefits for dietary protein intake over and above requirements set out in various countries at ∼0.8–1.0 g·kg body mass (BM)−1·day−1 for training adaptation, manipulating body composition, and optimizing performance in track and field athletes. To facilitate the remodeling of protein-containing structures, which are turning over rapidly due to their training volumes, track and field athletes with the goal of weight maintenance or weight gain should aim for protein intakes of ∼1.6 g·kg BM−1·day−1. Protein intakes at this level would not necessarily require an overemphasis on protein-containing foods and, beyond convenience, does not suggest a need to use protein or amino acid-based supplements. This review also highlights that optimal protein intakes may exceed 1.6 g·kg BM−1·day−1 for athletes who are restricting energy intake and attempting to minimize loss of lean BM. We discuss the underpinning rationale for weight loss in track and field athletes, explaining changes in metabolic pathways that occur in response to energy restriction when manipulating protein intake and training. Finally, this review offers practical advice on protein intakes that warrant consideration in allowing an optimal adaptive response for track and field athletes seeking to train effectively and to lose fat mass while energy restricted with minimal (or no) loss of lean BM.

Open access

Celebrating the Professional Life of Professor Kevin D. Tipton (1961–2022)

Oliver C. Witard, Arny A. Ferrando, and Stuart M. Phillips

This invited editorial celebrates the distinguished professional life of Professor Kevin D. Tipton, who sadly passed away on January 9, 2022. Professor Tipton made an outstanding contribution to the scientific field of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism over an exceptional 30-year career. He dedicated his academic career to understanding the response of muscle protein metabolism to exercise and nutrition. The impact of his work is far-reaching with application to athletes in terms of promoting training adaptation, recovery, and performance, alongside clinical implications for injury management and healthy aging. Notable scientific contributions included the first in vivo human study to demonstrate the role of orally ingested essential amino acids in stimulating muscle protein synthesis during acute post-exercise recovery. This finding laid the foundation for future studies to interrogate the response of muscle protein synthesis to the ingestion of different protein types. Professor Tipton’s work also included investigating the maximally effective dose and timing (regarding exercise) of ingested protein for the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis. Kevin will be remembered fondly by academics, applied scientists, and students across the sport nutrition and exercise metabolism community as a leading researcher in the field, a critical thinker, and an inspirational teacher. His mission was to educate the next generation of exercise scientists by sharing his distinct wealth of knowledge accrued over three decades. Above all else, Kevin was kind, generous (with his time and knowledge), honest, and incredibly social. He was a unique character and will be greatly missed among our community but certainly never forgotten.

Open access

Making Sense of Muscle Protein Synthesis: A Focus on Muscle Growth During Resistance Training

Oliver C. Witard, Laurent Bannock, and Kevin D. Tipton

The acute response of muscle protein synthesis (MPS) to resistance exercise and nutrition is often used to inform recommendations for exercise programming and dietary interventions, particularly protein nutrition, to support and enhance muscle growth with training. Those recommendations are worthwhile only if there is a predictive relationship between the acute response of MPS and subsequent muscle hypertrophy during resistance exercise training. The metabolic basis for muscle hypertrophy is the dynamic balance between the synthesis and degradation of myofibrillar proteins in muscle. There is ample evidence that the process of MPS is much more responsive to exercise and nutrition interventions than muscle protein breakdown. Thus, it is intuitively satisfying to translate the acute changes in MPS to muscle hypertrophy with training over a longer time frame. Our aim is to examine and critically evaluate the strength and nature of this relationship. Moreover, we examine the methodological and physiological factors related to measurement of MPS and changes in muscle hypertrophy that contribute to uncertainty regarding this relationship. Finally, we attempt to offer recommendations for practical and contextually relevant application of the information available from studies of the acute response of MPS to optimize muscle hypertrophy with training.

Free access

Co-Ingestion of Branched-Chain Amino Acids and Carbohydrate Stimulates Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis Following Resistance Exercise in Trained Young Men

Sarah R. Jackman, Gareth A. Wallis, Jinglei Yu, Andrew Philp, Keith Baar, Kevin D. Tipton, and Oliver C. Witard

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) and carbohydrate (CHO) are commonly recommended postexercise supplements. However, no study has examined the interaction of CHO and BCAA ingestion on myofibrillar protein synthesis (MyoPS) rates following exercise. We aimed to determine the response of MyoPS to the co-ingestion of BCAA and CHO following an acute bout of resistance exercise. Ten resistance-trained young men completed two trials in counterbalanced order, ingesting isocaloric drinks containing either 30.6-g CHO plus 5.6-g BCAA (B + C) or 34.7-g CHO alone following a bout of unilateral, leg resistance exercise. MyoPS was measured postexercise with a primed, constant infusion of L-[ring13C6] phenylalanine and collection of muscle biopsies pre- and 4 hr postdrink ingestion. Blood samples were collected at time points before and after drink ingestion. Serum insulin concentrations increased to a similar extent in both trials (p > .05), peaking at 30 min postdrink ingestion. Plasma leucine (514 ± 34 nmol/L), isoleucine (282 ± 23 nmol/L), and valine (687 ± 33 nmol/L) concentrations peaked at 0.5 hr postdrink in B + C and remained elevated for 3 hr during exercise recovery. MyoPS was ∼15% greater (95% confidence interval [−0.002, 0.028], p = .039, Cohen’s d = 0.63) in B + C (0.128%/hr ± 0.011%/hr) than CHO alone (0.115%/hr ± 0.011%/hr) over the 4 hr postexercise period. Co-ingestion of BCAA and CHO augments the acute response of MyoPS to resistance exercise in trained young males.

Full access

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

Jordan D. Philpott, Chris Donnelly, Ian H. Walshe, Elizabeth E. MacKinley, James Dick, Stuart D.R. Galloway, Kevin D. Tipton, and Oliver C. Witard

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.

Full access

Effect of Intensive Training on Mood With No Effect on Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor

Maria Francesca Piacentini, Oliver C. Witard, Cajsa Tonoli, Sarah R. Jackman, James E. Turner, Arie K. Kies, Asker E. Jeukendrup, Kevin D. Tipton, and Romain Meeusen


Monitoring mood state is a useful tool for avoiding nonfunctional overreaching. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is implicated in stress-related mood disorders.


To investigate the impact of intensified training-induced mood disturbance on plasma BDNF concentrations at rest and in response to exercise.


Eight cyclists performed 1 wk of normal (NT), 1 wk of intensified (INT), and 1 wk of recovery (REC) training. Fasted blood samples were collected before and after exercise on day 7 of each training week and analyzed for plasma BDNF and cortisol concentrations. A 24-item Profile of Mood State questionnaire was administered on day 7 of each training week, and global mood score (GMS) was calculated.


Time-trial performance was impaired during INT (P = .01) and REC (P = .02) compared with NT. Basal plasma cortisol (NT = 153 ± 16 ng/mL, INT = 130 ± 11 ng/mL, REC = 150 ± 14 ng/ml) and BDNF (NT = 484 ± 122 pg/mL, INT = 488 ± 122 pg/mL, REC = 383 ± 56 pg/mL) concentrations were similar between training conditions. Likewise, similar exercise-induced increases in cortisol and BDNF concentrations were observed between training conditions. GMS was 32% greater during INT vs NT (P < .001).


Consistent with a state of functional overreaching (FOR), impairments in performance and mood state with INT were restored after 1 wk of REC. These results support evidence for mood changes before plasma BDNF concentrations as a biochemical marker of FOR and that cortisol is not a useful marker for predicting FOR.

Open access

International Association of Athletics Federations Consensus Statement 2019: Nutrition for Athletics

Louise M. Burke, Linda M. Castell, Douglas J. Casa, Graeme L. Close, Ricardo J. S. Costa, Ben Desbrow, Shona L. Halson, Dana M. Lis, Anna K. Melin, Peter Peeling, Philo U. Saunders, Gary J. Slater, Jennifer Sygo, Oliver C. Witard, Stéphane Bermon, and Trent Stellingwerff

The International Association of Athletics Federations recognizes the importance of nutritional practices in optimizing an Athlete’s well-being and performance. Although Athletics encompasses a diverse range of track-and-field events with different performance determinants, there are common goals around nutritional support for adaptation to training, optimal performance for key events, and reducing the risk of injury and illness. Periodized guidelines can be provided for the appropriate type, amount, and timing of intake of food and fluids to promote optimal health and performance across different scenarios of training and competition. Some Athletes are at risk of relative energy deficiency in sport arising from a mismatch between energy intake and exercise energy expenditure. Competition nutrition strategies may involve pre-event, within-event, and between-event eating to address requirements for carbohydrate and fluid replacement. Although a “food first” policy should underpin an Athlete’s nutrition plan, there may be occasions for the judicious use of medical supplements to address nutrient deficiencies or sports foods that help the athlete to meet nutritional goals when it is impractical to eat food. Evidence-based supplements include caffeine, bicarbonate, beta-alanine, nitrate, and creatine; however, their value is specific to the characteristics of the event. Special considerations are needed for travel, challenging environments (e.g., heat and altitude); special populations (e.g., females, young and masters athletes); and restricted dietary choice (e.g., vegetarian). Ideally, each Athlete should develop a personalized, periodized, and practical nutrition plan via collaboration with their coach and accredited sports nutrition experts, to optimize their performance.