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Impact of Caffeine and Protein on Postexercise Muscle Glycogen Synthesis


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: April 2012 - Volume 44 - Issue 4 - p 692–700
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31823a40ef
Applied Sciences

Background Both protein and caffeine coingestion with CHO have been suggested to represent effective dietary strategies to further accelerate postexercise muscle glycogen synthesis in athletes.

Purpose This study aimed to assess the effect of protein or caffeine coingestion on postexercise muscle glycogen synthesis rates when optimal amounts of CHO are ingested.

Methods Fourteen male cyclists were studied on three different test days. Each test day started with a glycogen-depleting exercise session. This was followed by a 6-h recovery period, during which subjects received 1.2 g·kg−1·h−1 CHO, the same amount of CHO with 0.3 g·kg−1·h−1 of a protein plus leucine mixture (CHO + PRO), or 1.7 mg·kg−1·h−1 caffeine (CHO + CAF). All drinks were enriched with [U-13C6]-labeled glucose to assess potential differences in the appearance rate of ingested glucose from the gut. Muscle biopsies were collected immediately after cessation of exercise and after 6 h of postexercise recovery.

Results The plasma insulin response was higher in CHO + PRO compared with CHO and CHO + CAF (P < 0.01). Plasma glucose responses and glucose appearance rates did not differ between experiments. Muscle glycogen synthesis rates averaged 31 ± 4, 34 ± 4, and 31 ± 4 mmol·kg−1 dry weight·h−1 in CHO, CHO + PRO, and CHO + CAF, respectively (P = NS). In accordance, histochemical analyses did not show any differences between net changes in Type I and Type II muscle fiber glycogen content between experiments.

Conclusions Coingestion of protein or caffeine does not further accelerate postexercise muscle glycogen synthesis when ample amounts of CHO (1.2 g·kg−1·h−1) are ingested.

Department of Human Movement Sciences, NUTRIM School for Nutrition, Toxicology and Metabolism, Maastricht University Medical Centre, Maastricht, THE NETHERLANDS

Address for correspondence: Luc J. C. van Loon, Ph.D., Department of Human Movement Sciences, Maastricht University Medical Centre, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands; E-mail:

Submitted for publication January 2011.

Accepted for publication September 2011.

©2012The American College of Sports Medicine