Dietary protein to support muscle hypertrophy

L.J.C. van Loon, M.J. Gibala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Intact protein, protein hydrolysates, and free amino acids are popular ingredients in contemporary sports nutrition, and have been suggested to augment post-exercise recovery. Protein and/or amino acid ingestion stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis, inhibits protein breakdown and, as such, stimulates muscle protein accretion following resistance and endurance type exercise. This has been suggested to lead to a greater adaptive response to each successive exercise bout, resulting in more effective muscle reconditioning. Despite limited evidence, some basic guidelines can be defined regarding the preferred type, amount, and timing of dietary protein that should be ingested to maximize post-exercise muscle protein accretion. Whey protein seems most effective in stimulating muscle protein synthesis during acute post-exercise recovery. This is likely attributable to its rapid digestion and absorption kinetics and specific amino acid composition. Ingestion of approximately 20 g protein during and/or immediately after exercise is sufficient to maximize post-exercise muscle protein synthesis rates. Coingestion of a large amount of carbohydrate or free leucine is not warranted to further augment post- exercise muscle protein synthesis when ample protein is already ingested. Future research should focus on the relevance of the acute anabolic response following exercise to optimize the skeletal muscle adaptive response to exercise training.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-95
JournalNestlé Nutrition Institute Workshop Series
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011

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