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Protein Supplementation Does Not Affect Myogenic Adaptations to Resistance Training


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: June 2017 - Volume 49 - Issue 6 - p 1197–1208
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001224
Applied Sciences

It has been proposed that protein supplementation during resistance exercise training enhances muscle hypertrophy. The degree of hypertrophy during training is controlled in part through the activation of satellite cells and myonuclear accretion.

Purpose This study aimed to determine the efficacy of protein supplementation (and the type of protein) during traditional resistance training on myofiber cross-sectional area, satellite cell content, and myonuclear addition.

Methods Healthy young men participated in supervised whole-body progressive resistance training 3 d·wk−1 for 12 wk. Participants were randomized to one of three groups ingesting a daily 22-g macronutrient dose of soy–dairy protein blend (PB, n = 22), whey protein isolate (WP, n = 15), or an isocaloric maltodextrin placebo (MDP, n = 17). Lean mass, vastus lateralis myofiber-type–specific cross-sectional area, satellite cell content, and myonuclear addition were assessed before and after resistance training.

Results PB and the pooled protein treatments (PB + WP = PRO) exhibited a greater whole-body lean mass %change compared with MDP (P = 0.057 for PB) and (P = 0.050 for PRO), respectively. All treatments demonstrated similar leg muscle hypertrophy and vastus lateralis myofiber-type–specific cross-sectional area (P < 0.05). Increases in myosin heavy chain I and II myofiber satellite cell content and myonuclei content were also detected after exercise training (P < 0.05).

Conclusion Protein supplementation during resistance training has a modest effect on whole-body lean mass as compared with exercise training without protein supplementation, and there was no effect on any outcome between protein supplement types (blend vs whey). However, protein supplementation did not enhance resistance exercise–induced increases in myofiber hypertrophy, satellite cell content, or myonuclear addition in young healthy men. We propose that as long as protein intake is adequate during muscle overload, the adaptations in muscle growth and function will not be influenced by protein supplementation.

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1Division of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX; 2Department of Nutrition and Metabolism, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX; 3School of Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX; 4Sealy Center on Aging, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX; 5Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX; 6DuPont Nutrition and Health, St. Louis, MO

Address for correspondence: Blake Rasmussen, Ph.D., Department of Nutrition and Metabolism, School of Health Professions, University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Boulevard, Galveston, TX 77555-1142; E-mail:

Submitted for publication November 2016.

Accepted for publication January 2017.

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© 2017 American College of Sports Medicine