What Are the Dietary Protein Requirements of Physically Active Individuals? New Evidence on the Effects of Exercise on Protein Utilization During Post-Exercise Recovery

Authors


Reprint requests to Roger A. Fielding, PhD, Human Physiology Laboratory, Department of Health Sciences, Boston University, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, 635 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215. Email: fielding@bu.edu

Abstract

Exercise and physical activity increase energy expenditure up to 10-fold. This brief review will focus on the effect of exercise on protein requirements. Evidence has accumulated that amino acids are oxidized as substrates during prolonged submaximal exercise. In addition, studies have determined that both endurance and resistance training exercise increase skeletal muscle protein synthesis and breakdown in the post-exercise recovery period. Studies using nitrogen balance have further confirmed that protein requirements for individuals engaged in regular exercise are increased. The current recommended intakes of protein for strength and endurance athletes are 1.6 to 1.7 g/kg and 1.2 to 1.4 g/kg per day, respectively. Presently, most athletes consume an adequate amount of protein in their diet. The timing and nutritional content of the post-exercise meal, although often overlooked, are known to have synergistic effects on protein accretion after exercise. New evidence suggests that individuals engaging in strenuous activity consume a meal rich in amino acids and carbohydrate soon after the exercise bout or training session.

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