Protein and the Adaptive Response With Endurance Training: Wishful Thinking or a Competitive Edge?

P. Knuiman*, Maria Hopman, Conor Verbruggen, M.R. Mensink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The significance of carbohydrates for endurance training has been well established, whereas the role of protein and the adaptive response with endurance training is unclear. Therefore, the aim of this perspective is to discuss the current evidence on the role of dietary protein and the adaptive response with endurance training. On a metabolic level, a single bout of endurance training stimulates the oxidation of several amino acids.
Although the amount of amino acids as part of total energy expenditure during exercise is relatively low compared to other substrates (e.g., carbohydrates and fat), it may depress the rates of skeletal muscle protein synthesis, and thereby have a negative effect on training adaptation. A low supply of amino acids relative to that of carbohydrates may also have negative effects on the synthesis of capillaries, synthesis and turn-over of mitochondrial proteins and proteins involved in oxygen transport including hamoglobin and myoglobin. Thus far, the scientific evidence demonstrating the significance of dietary protein is mainly derived from research with resistance exercise training regimes. This is
not surprising since the general paradigm states that endurance training has insignificant effects on skeletal muscle growth. This could have resulted in an underappreciation of the role of dietary protein for the endurance athlete. To conclude, evidence of the role of protein on endurance training adaptations and performance remains scarce and is mainly derived from acute exercise studies. Therefore, future human intervention studies must unravel whether dietary protein is truly capable of augmenting endurance training adaptations and ultimately performance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number598
Number of pages8
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2018

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