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Milou Beelen, Louise M. Burke, Martin J. Gibala and Luc J.C. van Loon

During postexercise recovery, optimal nutritional intake is important to replenish endogenous substrate stores and to facilitate muscle-damage repair and reconditioning. After exhaustive endurance-type exercise, muscle glycogen repletion forms the most important factor determining the time needed to recover. Postexercise carbohydrate (CHO) ingestion has been well established as the most important determinant of muscle glycogen synthesis. Coingestion of protein and/or amino acids does not seem to further increase muscle glycogensynthesis rates when CHO intake exceeds 1.2 g · kg−1 · hr−1. However, from a practical point of view it is not always feasible to ingest such large amounts of CHO. The combined ingestion of a small amount of protein (0.2–0.4 g · (0.2−0.4 g · kg−1 · hr−1) with less CHO (0.8 g · kg−1 · hr−1) stimulates endogenous insulin release and results in similar muscle glycogen-repletion rates as the ingestion of 1.2 g · kg−1 · hr−1 CHO. Furthermore, postexercise protein and/or amino acid administration is warranted to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, inhibit protein breakdown, and allow net muscle protein accretion. The consumption of ~20 g intact protein, or an equivalent of ~9 g essential amino acids, has been reported to maximize muscle protein-synthesis rates during the first hours of postexercise recovery. Ingestion of such small amounts of dietary protein 5 or 6 times daily might support maximal muscle protein-synthesis rates throughout the day. Consuming CHO and protein during the early phases of recovery has been shown to positively affect subsequent exercise performance and could be of specific benefit for athletes involved in multiple training or competition sessions on the same or consecutive days.

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Llion A. Roberts, Johnpaul Caia, Lachlan P. James, Tannath J. Scott and Vincent G. Kelly

Optimizing postexercise recovery windows is an invaluable aspect of athletes’ physical preparation cycles. The importance of this window is highlighted by the compounding effects of successive training and/or competitive bouts on physiological and physical function, attributed to residual fatigue

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Column-editor : Susan Kleiner

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Luc J.C. van Loon

Protein, protein hydrolysates, and amino acids have become popular ingredients in sports nutrition. The use of protein, protein hydrolysates, and amino acid mixtures has multiple applications when aiming to improve post exercise recovery. After exhaustive endurance-type exercise, muscle glycogen repletion is the most important factor determining the time needed to recover. Coingestion of relatively small amounts of protein and/or amino acids with carbohydrate can be used to augment postprandial insulin secretion and accelerate muscle glycogen synthesis rates. Furthermore, it has been well established that ingesting protein, protein hydrolysates, and amino acid can stimulate protein synthesis and inhibit protein breakdown and, as such, improve net muscle protein balance after resistance- or endurance-type exercise. The latter has been suggested to lead to a more effective adaptive response to each successive exercise bout. To augment net muscle protein accretion, athletes involved in resistance-type exercise generally ingest both protein and carbohydrate during post exercise recovery. However, carbohydrate ingestion after resistance-type exercise does not seem to be warranted to further stimulate muscle protein synthesis or improve whole-body protein balance when ample protein has already been ingested. Because resistance-type exercise is also associated with a substantial reduction in muscle glycogen content, it would be preferred to coingest some carbohydrate when aiming to accelerate glycogen repletion. More research is warranted to assess the impact of ingesting different proteins, protein hydrolysates, and/or amino acids on muscle protein accretion after exercise.

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Karen Van Proeyen, Monique Ramaekers, Ivo Pischel and Peter Hespel

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of Opuntia ficus-indica (OFI) cladode and fruit-skin extract on blood glucose and plasma insulin increments due to high-dose carbohydrate ingestion, before and after exercise. Healthy, physically active men (n = 6; 21.0 ± 1.6 years, 78.1 ± 6.0 kg) participated in a doubleblind placebo-controlled crossover study involving 2 experimental sessions. In each session, the subjects successively underwent an oral glucose tolerance test at rest (OGTTR), a 30-min cycling bout at ~75% VO2max, and another OGTT after exercise (OGTTEX). They received capsules containing either 1,000 mg OFI or placebo (PL) 30 min before and immediately after the OGTTR. Blood samples were collected before (t 0) and at 30-min intervals after ingestion of 75 g glucose for determination of blood glucose and serum insulin. In OGTTEX an additional 75-g oral glucose bolus was administered at t 60. In OGTTR, OFI administration reduced the area under the glucose curve (AUCGLUC) by 26%, mainly due to lower blood glucose levels at t 30 and t 60 (p < .05). Furthermore, a higher serum insulin concentration was noted after OFI intake at baseline and at t 30 (p < .05). In OGTTEX, blood glucose at t 60 was ~10% lower in OFI than in PL, which resulted in a decreased AUCGLUC (–37%, p < .05). However, insulin values and AUCINS were not different between OFI and PL. In conclusion, the current study shows that OFI extract can increase plasma insulin and thereby facilitate the clearance of an oral glucose load from the circulation at rest and after endurance exercise in healthy men.

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Rob Duffield, Monique King and Melissa Skein


This study investigated the effects of hot conditions on the acute recovery of voluntary and evoked muscle performance and physiological responses following intermittent exercise.


Seven youth male and six female team-sport athletes performed two sessions separated by 7 d, involving a 30-min exercise protocol and 60-min passive recovery in either 22°C or 33°C and 40% relative humidity. The exercise protocol involved a 20-s maximal sprint every 5 min, separated by constant-intensity exercise at 100 W on a cycle ergometer. Maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) and a resting evoked twitch (Pf) of the right knee extensors were assessed before and immediately following exercise and again 15, 30, and 60 min post exercise, and capillary blood was obtained at the same time points to measure lactate, pH, and HCO3. During and following exercise, core temperature, heart rate and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were also measured.


No differences (P = 0.73 to 0.95) in peak power during repeated sprints were present between conditions. Post exercise MVC was reduced (P < .05) in both conditions and a moderate effect size (d = 0.60) indicated a slower percentage MVC recovered by 60 min in the heat (83 ± 10 vs 74 ± 11% recovered). Both heart rate and core temperature were significantly higher (P < .05) during recovery in the heat. Capillary blood values did not differ between conditions at any time point, whereas sessional RPE was higher 60 min post exercise in the heat.


The current data suggests that passive recovery in warm temperatures not only delays cardiovascular and thermal recovery, but may also slow the recovery of MVC and RPE.

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Michael Gleeson, Andrew K. Blannin, Neil P. Walsh, Nicolette C. Bishop and Anya M. Clark

We examined the effects of a low-carbohydrate (CHO) diet on the plasma glutamine and circulating leukocyte responses to prolonged strenuous exercise. Twelve untrained male subjects cycled for 60 min at 70% of maximal oxygen uptake on two separate occasions, 3 days apart. All subjects performed the first exercise task after a normal diet: they completed the second exercise task after 3 days on either a high-CHO diet (75±8% CHO, n = 6) or a low-CHO diet (7±4% CHO, n = 6). The low-CHO diet was associated with a larger rise in plasma cortisol during exercise, a greater fall in the plasma glutamine concentration during recovery, and a larger neutrophilia during the postexercise period. Exercise on the high-CHO diet did not affect levels of plasma glutamine and circulating leukocytes. We conclude that CHO availability can influence the plasma glutamine andcirculaling leukocyte responses during recovery from intense prolonged exercise.

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Neil P. Walsh, Andrew K. Blannin, Nicolette C. Bishop, Paula J. Robson and Michael Gleeson

Recent studies have shown that neutrophils can utilize glutamine and that glutamine supplementation can improve neutrophil function in postoperative and burn patients. The present study investigated the influence of oral glutamine supplementation on stimulated neutrophil degranulation and oxidative burst activity following prolonged exercise. Subjects, 7 well-trained men, reported to the laboratory following an overnight fast and cycled for 2 hrs at 60% VO2max on two occasions a week apart. They were randomly assigned to either a glutamine or placebo treatment. For both trials, subjects consumed a sugar-free lemon drink at 15-min intervals until 90 minutes, then a lemon flavored glutamine drink (GLN) or sugar-free lemon drink (PLA) was consumed at 15-min intervals for the remaining exercise and the 2-hr recovery period. Venous blood samples were taken pre-, during, and postexercise. Glutamine supplementation had no effect on the magnitude of postexercise leukocytosis, the plasma elastase concentration following exercise (which increased in both trials), or the plasma elastase release in response to bacterial stimulation (which fell in both trials). Neutrophil function assessed by oxidative burst activity of isolated cells did not change following exercise in either trial. These findings therefore suggest that the fall in plasma glutamine concentration does not account for the decrease in neutrophil function (degranulation response) following prolonged exercise.

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Susan M. Shirreffs, Luis F. Aragon-Vargas, Mhairi Keil, Thomas D. Love and Sian Phillips

To determine the effectiveness of 3 commonly used beverages in restoring fluid and electrolyte balance, 8 volunteers dehydrated by 1.94% ± 0.17% of body mass by intermittent exercise in the heat, then ingested a carbohydrate-electrolyte solution (Gatorade), carbonated water/apple-juice mixture (Apfelschorle), and San Benedetto mineral water in a volume equal to 150% body-mass loss. These drinks are all are perceived to be effective rehydration solutions, and their effectiveness was compared with the rehydration effectiveness of Evian mineral water, which is not perceived in this way by athletes. Four hours after rehydration, the subjects were in a significantly lower hydration status than the pretrial situation on trials with Apfelschorle (–365 ± 319 mL, P = 0.030), Evian (–529 ± 319 mL, P < 0.0005), and San Benedetto (–401 ± 353 mL, P = 0.016) but were in the same hydration status as before the dehydrating exercise on Gatorade (–201 ± 388 mL, P = 0.549). Sodium balance was negative on all trials throughout the study; only with Apfelschorle did subjects remain in positive potassium balance. In this scenario, recovery of fluid balance can only be achieved when significant, albeit insufficient, quantities of sodium are ingested after exercise. There is a limited range of commercially available products that have a composition sufficient to achieve this, even though the public thinks that some of the traditional drinks are effective for this purpose.

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Mahmoud S. El-Sayed, Angelheart J.M. Rattu, Xia Lin and Thomas Reilly

We examined the effects of active warm-down (AWD) and carbohydrate ingestion on plasma levels of free fatty acids (FFAs) and glucose changes into recovery following prolonged submaximal exercise. Subjects in Group 1 cycled at 70% of maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max); carbohydrate (CHO) or placebo (PLA) was ingested 15 min before and 45 min during exercise. In the AWD experiment, exercise was followed immediately by an AWD and subjects were given a placebo solution. Group 2 subjects consumed CHO or PLA at 75 min during and after exercise at 70% VO2max. ANOVA revealed a significant decrease in blood glucose levels only in Group 1, with a concomitant increase in FFA concentrations during exercise in both groups. Carbohydrate ingestion in Groups 1 and 2 significantly decreased the normal response of FFAs during exercise and markedly reduced the normal elevation of FFAs in recovery. AWD following submaximal exercise had no effect on plasma FFA elevations in recovery. These results suggest that carbohydrate ingestion, but not active warm-down, attenuates FFA elevations in recovery.