Physical Activity Performed in the Evening Increases the Overnight Muscle Protein Synthetic Response to Presleep Protein Ingestion in Older Men

Andy Holwerda, Imre W. K. Kouw, Jorn Trommelen, Shona L. Halson, Will K. W. H. Wodzig, Lex B. Verdijk, Lucas van Loon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The age-related decline in skeletal muscle mass is partly attributed to anabolic resistance to food intake. Dietary protein ingestion before sleep could be used as a nutritional strategy to compensate for anabolic resistance. Objective: The present study assessed whether physical activity performed in the evening can augment the overnight muscle protein synthetic response to presleep protein ingestion in older men. Methods: In a parallel group design, 23 healthy older men (mean SEM age: 71 1 y) were randomly assigned to ingest 40 g protein intrinsically labeled with L[1-C-13]-phenylalanine and L-[1-C-13]-leucine before going to sleep with (PRO+EX) or without (PRO) performing physical activity earlier in the evening. Overnight protein digestion and absorption kinetics and myofibrillar protein synthesis rates were assessed by combining primed, continuous infusions of L-[ring-H-2(5)]-phenylalanine, L-[1-C-13]-leucine, and L-[ring-H-2(2)]-tyrosine with the ingestion of intrinsically labeled casein protein. Muscle and blood samples were collected throughout overnight sleep. Results: Protein ingested before sleep was normally digested and absorbed, with 54% +/- 2% of the protein-derived amino acids appearing in the circulation throughout overnight sleep. Overnight myofibrillar protein synthesis rates were 31 % (0.058% +/- 0.002%/h compared with 0.044% +/- 0.003%/h; P <0.01; based on L-[ring-H-2(5)]-phenylalanine) and 27% (0.074% +/- 0.004%/h compared with 0.058% +/- 0.003%/h; P <0.01; based on L-[1-C-13]-leucine) higher in the PRO+EX than in the PRO treatment. More dietary protein-derived amino acids were incorporated into de novo myofibrillar protein during overnight sleep in PRO+EX than in PRO treatment (0.042 +/- 0.002 compared with 0.033 +/- 0.002 mole percent excess; P <0.05). Conclusions: Physical activity performed in the evening augments the overnight muscle protein synthetic response to presleep protein ingestion and allows more of the ingested protein-derived amino acids to be used for de novo muscle protein synthesis during overnight sleep in older men. This trial was registered at Nederlands Trial Register as NTR3885.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1307-1314
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • muscle protein synthesis
  • sarcopenia
  • dietary protein
  • exercise
  • overnight

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