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The purpose of the Point/Counterpoint Column is to

provide a respectful and balanced discussion in relation
to controversial or current topics in the fields of strength
and conditioning, nutrition, and human performance.

COLUMN EDITOR: Andrew J. Galpin, PhD, CSCS,


The Timing of
Postexercise Protein
Ingestion Is/Is Not
John L. Ivy, PhD1 and Brad J. Schoenfeld, PhD, CSCS, CSPS, FNSCA2
Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas; and 2Department of
Health Science, Lehman College, The Bronx, New York

ABSTRACT to shift the body into a predominately with the sarcolemma, the effectiveness
anabolic state (24,7). To make this of nutrient intervention will also decline
metabolic shift, nutrient intervention (21,24). Therefore, making the appropri-
is required. By ingesting carbohydrate ate nutrients available around the exer-
and protein soon after exercise, glucose cise period can increase the rate of
and amino acids derived from these protein synthesis and reduce protein
DEBATE PERSISTS OVER macronutrients initiate a shift from degradation, thereby increasing protein
WHETHER OR NOT THE TIMING OF a catabolic state to an anabolic state accretion (24,25). However, research
INGESTION MATTERS. SOME by raising blood insulin levels, lowering suggests the magnitude of these respon-
ARGUE IMMEDIATELY AFTER cortisol and other catabolic hormones, ses will be significantly reduced if supple-
EXERCISE IS BEST, WHEREAS and increasing substrate availability mentation is delayed for several hours.
OTHERS DISAGREE. THIS ARTICLE (4,7). Because muscle is highly insulin
WILL DISCUSS THE IMPORTANCE sensitive after exercise and there are Evidence supporting this concept comes
OF TIMING OF POSTEXERCISE increased concentrations of glucose from both acute and chronic exercise
PROTEIN INGESTION. (16,33) and amino acid transporters studies. For example, Levenhagen et al.
(23) on the sarcolemma, which ensure (24) and Okamura et al., (25) reported
the rapid uptake of blood glucose and that providing an adequate protein or
PRO amino acids, muscle glycogen storage amino acid supplement immediately after
lthough protein synthesis is typ- and protein synthesis are promoted. exercise significantly raised the rate of

A ically elevated after exercise, pro-

tein degradation is also increased
resulting in a negative net protein bal-
The increase in insulin is also important
for limiting protein degradation. Since
insulin sensitivity declines with time after
total body and muscle protein synthesis
as compared with delaying supplementa-
tion for several hours. In well-controlled
ance, and this catabolic state will prevail exercise as well as the number of glucose resistance exercise training studies, sup-
for many hours unless actions are taken and amino acid transporters associated plementing in proximity to the workout

Copyright National Strength and Conditioning Association Strength and Conditioning Journal | www.nsca-scj.com 51

as compared with delaying supplementa- can reduce exercise-induced muscle 7. Chandler RM, Byrne HK, Patterson JG, and
tion was found to enhance muscle devel- damage and inflammation, increase Ivy JL. Dietary supplements affect the
anabolic hormones after high resistance
opment and strength (5,10,12,20,32). the rate of muscle glycogen stores,
exercise. J Appl Physiol (1985) 76: 839
Gains in lean body mass, muscle fiber and enhance the rate of recovery 845, 1994.
cross-sectional area, and strength (1,5,6,9,14), its effect on resistance exer-
8. Coburn JW, Housh DA, Housh TJ, Malek MH,
with nutritional supplementation cise training adaptations is less defini-
Beck TW, Cramer JT, Johnson GO, and
after resistance exercise have been re- tive. This is due in part to the lack of Donlin PE. Effects of leucine and whey
ported to be 40120% (5,10,17,22,32), research studies actually designed to protein supplementation during eight weeks
50300% (5,10,17,30), and 30100% address this question. However, results of unilateral resistance training. J Strength
(5,8,10,12,22,32) greater, respectively, from a few well-controlled studies Cond Res 20: 284291, 2006.
verses providing no supplement or sup- strongly suggest that stimulation of 9. Cockburn E, Stevenson E, Hayes PR,
plementing at a later time of day. In protein accretion and resistance train- Robson-Ansley P, and Howatson G. Effect
some studies, only when supplementing ing adaptation is better served by pro- of milk-based carbohydrate-protein
protein after exercise were significant vision of nutrients sooner rather than supplement timing on the attenuation of
later after exercise. exercise-induced muscle damage. Appl
increases in fat-free mass and strength
Physiol Nutr Metab 35: 270277, 2010.
noted (12,19). Moreover, increased aer-
obic training adaptations with postexer- 10. Cribb PJ and Hayes A. Effects of
John L. Ivy is a Professor Emeritus in the supplement timing and resistance exercise
cise supplementation have also been Department of Kinesiology and Health on skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Med Sci
reported (13,26). Education at the University of Texas at Sports Exerc 38: 19181925, 2006.
In several studies, the results indicated Austin, Austin, Texas. 11. Erskine RM, Fletcher G, Hanson B, and
there was no advantage to providing Folland JP. Whey protein does not
postexercise nutritional supplementation enhance the adaptations to elbow flexor
when performing resistance exercise REFERENCES resistance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc
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(11,18,29,31). A recent meta-analysis also Wang B, Kwon B, and Ivy JL.
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muscle mass and strength in untrained ing resulted in a 3-fold greater increase
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Phillips SM. Body composition and
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strength changes in women with milk
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plus amino acid supplementation on with carbohydrate immediately after
and resistance exercise. Med Sci Sports
muscle anabolism, mass and strength.
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33. Wojtaszewski J, Kristiansen S, Hespel P,
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24. Levenhagen DK, Gresham JD, Differential effects of insulin and contractions. alone and placebo resulted in a net leg
Carlson MG, Maron DJ, Borel MJ, and Am J Physiol 264: E270E278, 1993. release of essential amino acids and net
Flakoll PJ. Postexercise nutrient intake loss of whole-body and leg muscle pro-
timing in humans is critical to recovery of
CON tein (12). Although these studies would
leg glucose and protein homeostasis. Am J
rotein timing has been pro- seem to lend support to the anabolic

Physiol Endocrinol Metab 280:
E982E993, 2001. moted as an important strategy window theory, it should be noted that
to maximize muscular adapta- all involved moderate intensity aerobic-
25. Okamura K, Doi T, Hamada K, Sakurai M,
Matsumoto K, Imaizumi K, Yoshioka Y, tions from resistance training. The type training. This raises the distinct pos-
Shimizu S, and Suzuki M. Effect of amino strategy is predicated on the concept sibility that results were largely attributed
acid and glucose administration during of an anabolic window of opportu- to greater mitochondrial and/or sarco-
postexercise recovery on protein kinetics in nity whereby it is postulated that plasmic protein fractions as opposed to
dogs. Am J Physiol 272: E1023E1030, working muscles are primed for anab- synthesis of contractile elements (18). In
1997. contrast, Rasmussen et al. (16) found that
olism for a limited time after resistive
26. Okazaki K, Ichinose T, Mitono H, Chen M, exercise, and amino acids therefore consumption of an oral supplement con-
Masuki S, Endoh H, Hayase H, Doi T, and taining 6 g of essential amino acids after
must be consumed within this window
Nose H. Impact of protein and
to maximize exercise-induced muscle resistance training produced similar in-
carbohydrate supplementation on plasma
volume expansion and thermoregulatory protein accretion (4,8,10). According creases in MPS irrespective of whether
adaptation by aerobic training in older men. to theory, the anabolic window extends the supplement was ingested 1- versus 3
J Appl Physio (l985) 107: 725733, only about 1 hour after exercise, and hours after exercise. Importantly, the
2009. delaying protein consumption beyond acute protein synthetic response to exer-
27. Rankin JW, Goldman LP, Puglisi MJ, this point will ultimately have a negative cise does not always occur in parallel
Nickols-Richardson M, Earthman CP, and impact on results (9). Proponents have with chronic upregulation of causative

Strength and Conditioning Journal | www.nsca-scj.com 53


myogenic signals (5) and is not necessar- support of a narrow anabolic window is 6. Cribb PJ and Hayes A. Effects of
ily predictive of long-term increases in weak, at best; if immediate consumption supplement timing and resistance exercise
on skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Med Sci
muscle hypertrophy pursuant to regular of protein after exercise does in fact con-
Sports Exerc 38: 19181925, 2006.
resistance training (14). fer any positive hypertrophic advantage
the effect would almost certainly be 7. Hoffman JR, Ratamess NA, Tranchina CP,
A recent meta-analysis from the authors Rashti SL, Kang J, and Faigenbaum AD.
small. There is evidence that muscle is
laboratory sought to quantify the effect of Effect of protein-supplement timing on
sensitized to protein consumption in the
protein timing on muscular adaptations strength, power, and body-composition
postworkout period, and that this sensi- changes in resistance-trained men. Int J Sport
by pooling data from longitudinal studies
tization can last for 24 hours or more Nutr Exerc Metab 19: 172185, 2009.
on the topic (17). A total of 23 studies
after a resistance training bout (2). That 8. Hulmi JJ, Lockwood CM, and Stout JR.
comprising 525 subjects met inclusion
said it remains possible if not probable Effect of protein/essential amino acids and
criteria. A basic analysis that did not
that delaying protein provision for many resistance training on skeletal muscle
account for covariates showed a small
hours postworkout would ultimately hypertrophy: A case for whey protein. Nutr
but significant positive effect (effect Metab (Lond) 7: 51, 2010.
have a negative effect on muscle protein
size 5 0.24 6 0.10) for protein timing
accretion. Extrapolation of data sug- 9. Ivy J and Ferguson-Stegall L. Nutrient
on muscle hypertrophy. However, gests that the window of opportunity Timing: The Means to Improved Exercise
meta-regression revealed virtually the likely extends at least 46 hours from Performance, Recovery, and Training. Am J
entire effect was attributable to total the time a person consumes a meal Lifestyle Med 8(4): 246259, 2014.
protein consumption. Daily protein before training (1). This hypothesis 10. Kukuljan S, Nowson CA, Sanders K, and
intake of the control subjects averaged requires further study. Daly RM. Effects of resistance exercise and
1.33 g/kg, whereas that of those in the fortified milk on skeletal muscle mass,
timing condition was 1.66 g/kg. Given muscle size, and functional performance in
that research shows resistance-trained Brad J. Schoenfeld is an Assistant middle-aged and older men: An 18-mo
Professor in the Department of Health randomized controlled trial. J Appl Physiol
individuals require a protein intake (1985) 107: 18641873, 2009.
of 1.61.7 g$kg21$d21 to remain in Science, Lehman College, The Bronx,
a non-negative nitrogen balance (11), New York. 11. Lemon PW, Tarnopolsky MA, MacDougall JD,
and Atkinson SA. Protein requirements and
it therefore follows that the protein- Conflicts of Interest and Source of Funding: muscle mass/strength changes during
timed subjects had a distinct advantage The authors report no conflicts of interest intensive training in novice bodybuilders.
as a result of meeting total daily protein and no source of funding. J Appl Physiol (1985) 73: 767775, 1992.
needs to support anabolism. 12. Levenhagen DK, Carr C, Carlson MG,
A limitation of the meta-analysis was Maron DJ, Borel MJ, and Flakoll PJ.
REFERENCES Postexercise protein intake enhances whole-
that only 3 studies meeting inclusion cri-
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revisited: Is there a post-exercise anabolic
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Staples AW, Prior T, Tang JE, Rennie MJ,
and controls, respectively, indicating that Baker SK, and Phillips SM. Enhanced amino humans is critical to recovery of leg glucose
both groups exceeded the threshold acid sensitivity of myofibrillar protein and protein homeostasis. Am J Physiol
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17. Schoenfeld BJ, Aragon AA, and Krieger JW. signaling molecule phosphorylation and
expenditure, glycaemic control or
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cardiometabolic risk factors in
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J Int Soc Sports Nutr 10: 53, 2013. a hypocaloric, high protein diet in patients
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