The Effect of Protein Supplementation versus Carbohydrate Supplementation on Muscle Damage Markers and Soreness Following a 15-km Road Race: A Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial

Dominique S M Ten Haaf, Martin A Flipsen, Astrid M H Horstman, Hans Timmerman, Monique A H Steegers, Lisette C P G M de Groot, Thijs M H Eijsvogels, Maria T E Hopman

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We assessed whether a protein supplementation protocol could attenuate running-induced muscle soreness and other muscle damage markers compared to iso-caloric placebo supplementation. A double-blind randomized controlled trial was performed among 323 recreational runners (age 44 ± 11 years, 56% men) participating in a 15-km road race. Participants received milk protein or carbohydrate supplementation, for three consecutive days post-race. Habitual protein intake was assessed using 24 h recalls. Race characteristics were determined and muscle soreness was assessed with the Brief Pain Inventory at baseline and 1-3 days post-race. In a subgroup (n = 149) muscle soreness was measured with a strain gauge algometer and creatine kinase (CK) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) concentrations were measured. At baseline, no group-differences were observed for habitual protein intake (protein group: 79.9 ± 26.5 g/d versus placebo group: 82.0 ± 26.8 g/d, p = 0.49) and muscle soreness (protein: 0.45 ± 1.08 versus placebo: 0.44 ± 1.14, p = 0.96). Subjects completed the race with a running speed of 12 ± 2 km/h. With the Intention-to-Treat analysis no between-group differences were observed in reported muscle soreness. With the per-protocol analysis, however, the protein group reported higher muscle soreness 24 h post-race compared to the placebo group (2.96 ± 2.27 versus 2.46 ± 2.38, p = 0.039) and a lower pressure muscle pain threshold in the protein group compared to the placebo group (71.8 ± 30.0 N versus 83.9 ± 27.9 N, p = 0.019). No differences were found in concentrations of CK and LDH post-race between groups. Post-exercise protein supplementation is not more preferable than carbohydrate supplementation to reduce muscle soreness or other damage markers in recreational athletes with mostly a sufficient baseline protein intake running a 15-km road race.

Original languageEnglish
Article number858
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes

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