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Louise M. Burke, Julie A Winter, David Cameron-Smith, Marc Enslen, Michelle Farnfield and Jacques Decombaz

The authors undertook 2 crossover-designed studies to characterize plasma amino acid (AA) responses to the intake of 20 g of protein. In Study 1, 15 untrained and overnight-fasted subjects consumed 20 g protein from skim milk, soy milk, beefsteak, boiled egg, and a liquid meal supplement. In Study 2, 10 fasted endurance-trained subjects consumed 20 g protein from a protein-rich sports bar at rest and after a 60-min submaximal ride. Plasma AA concentrations were measured immediately before and for 180 min after food ingestion using a gas-chromatography flame-ionization detection technique. A pharmacokinetic analysis was undertaken for profiles of total AAs (TAA), essential AAs, branched-chain AAs (BCAA), and leucine. Although area-under-the-curve values for plasma TAA were similar across protein sources, the pattern of aminoacidemia showed robust differences between foods, with liquid forms of protein achieving peak concentrations twice as quickly after ingestion as solid protein-rich foods (e.g., ~50 min vs ~100 min) and skim milk achieving a significantly faster peak leucine concentration than all other foods (~25 min). Completing exercise before ingesting protein sources did not cause statistically significant changes in the pattern of delivery of key AAs, BCAAs, and leucine apart from a 20–40% increase in the rate of elimination. These results may be useful to plan the type and timing of intake of protein-rich foods to maximize the protein synthetic response to various stimuli such as exercise.