The Effects of Protein Supplements on Muscle Mass, Strength, and Aerobic and Anaerobic Power in Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review
- 9k Downloads
Protein supplements are frequently consumed by athletes and recreationally active adults to achieve greater gains in muscle mass and strength and improve physical performance.
This review provides a systematic and comprehensive analysis of the literature that tested the hypothesis that protein supplements accelerate gains in muscle mass and strength resulting in improvements in aerobic and anaerobic power. Evidence statements were created based on an accepted strength of recommendation taxonomy.
English language articles were searched through PubMed and Google Scholar using protein and supplements together with performance, exercise, strength, and muscle, alone or in combination as keywords. Additional articles were retrieved from reference lists found in these papers.
Studies recruiting healthy adults between 18 and 50 years of age that evaluated the effects of protein supplements alone or in combination with carbohydrate on a performance metric (e.g., one repetition maximum or isometric or isokinetic muscle strength), metrics of body composition, or measures of aerobic or anaerobic power were included in this review. The literature search identified 32 articles which incorporated test metrics that dealt exclusively with changes in muscle mass and strength, 5 articles that implemented combined resistance and aerobic training or followed participants during their normal sport training programs, and 1 article that evaluated changes in muscle oxidative enzymes and maximal aerobic power.
Study Appraisal and Synthesis Methods
All papers were read in detail, and examined for experimental design confounders such as dietary monitoring, history of physical training (i.e., trained and untrained), and the number of participants studied. Studies were also evaluated based on the intensity, frequency, and duration of training, the type and timing of protein supplementation, and the sensitivity of the test metrics.
For untrained individuals, consuming supplemental protein likely has no impact on lean mass and muscle strength during the initial weeks of resistance training. However, as the duration, frequency, and volume of resistance training increase, protein supplementation may promote muscle hypertrophy and enhance gains in muscle strength in both untrained and trained individuals. Evidence also suggests that protein supplementation may accelerate gains in both aerobic and anaerobic power.
To demonstrate measureable gains in strength and performance with exercise training and protein supplementation, many of the studies reviewed recruited untrained participants. Since skeletal muscle responses to exercise and protein supplementation differ between trained and untrained individuals, findings are not easily generalized for all consumers who may be considering the use of protein supplements.
This review suggests that protein supplementation may enhance muscle mass and performance when the training stimulus is adequate (e.g., frequency, volume, duration), and dietary intake is consistent with recommendations for physically active individuals.
KeywordsMuscle Strength Resistance Training Resistance Exercise Whey Protein Lean Mass
This work was supported by the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) and the Department of Defense Center Alliance for Dietary Supplements Research. The views, opinions and/or findings in this report are those of the authors, and should not be construed as an official Department of the Army position, policy or decision, unless so designated by other official documentation. Citation of commercial organization and trade names in this report do not constitute an official Department of the Army endorsement or approval of the products or services of these organizations.
T.M. McLellan was supported by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education through an interagency agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy and USAMRMC.
The authors have no potential conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review.
- 14.Ivy JI. Dietary strategies to promote glycogen synthesis after exercise. Can J Appl Physiol. 2001;26(Suppl.):S236–45.Google Scholar
- 20.Vandenogaerde TJ, Hopkins WG. Effects of acute carbohydrate supplementation on endurance performance. A meta-analysis. Sports Med. 2011;41:773–92.Google Scholar
- 28.Institute of Medicine. Dietary reference intakes for energy, carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein, and amino acids. Washington DC: The National Academies Press; 2005.Google Scholar
- 31.Shelmadine B, Cooke M, Buford T, et al. Effects of 28 days of resistance exercise and consuming a commercially available pre-workout supplement, NO-Shotgun®, on body composition, muscle strength and mass, markers of satellite cell activation, and clinical safety markers in males. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2009;6:16.PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
- 32.Spillane M, Schwarz N, Leddy S, et al. Effects of 28 days of resistance exercise while consuming commercially available pre- and post-workout supplements, NO-Shotgun® and NO-Synthesize® on body composition, muscle strength and mass, markers of protein synthesis, and clinical safety markers in males. Nutr Metab. 2011;8:78.Google Scholar
- 50.Hambre D, Vergara M, Lood Y, et al. A randomized trial of protein supplementation compared with extra fast food on the effects of resistance training to increase metabolism. Scan J Clin Lab Invest. 2012;72:471–8.Google Scholar
- 51.Ebell MH, Siwek J, Weiss BD, et al. Strength of recommendation taxonomy (SORT): a patient-centered approach to grading evidence in the medical literature. Am Fam Phys. 2004;69(3):548–56.Google Scholar
- 53.Tipton KD, Wolfe RR. Exercise, protein metabolism and muscle growth. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2011;11:109–32.Google Scholar
- 57.Tipton KD, Rasmussen BB, Miller SL, et al. Timing of amino acid-carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise. Am J Physiol. 2001;281:E197–206.Google Scholar
- 59.Beelen M, Koopman R, Gijsen AP, et al. Protein coingestion stimulates protein synthesis during resistance-type exercise. Am J Physiol. 2008;295:E70–7.Google Scholar
- 60.Levenhagen DK, Gresham JD, Carlson MG, et al. Postexercise nutrient intake timing in humans is critical to recovery of leg glucose and protein homeostasis. Am J Physiol. 2001;280:E982–93.Google Scholar
- 62.Børsheim E, Tipton KD, Wolf SE, et al. Essential amino acids and muscle protein recovery from resistance exercise. Am J Physiol. 2002;283:E648–57.Google Scholar
- 66.Glynn EL, Fry CS, Drummond MJ, et al. Muscle protein breakdown has a minor role in the protein anabolic response to essential amino acid and carbohydrate intake following resistance exercise. Am J Physiol. 2010;299:R533–40.Google Scholar
- 67.Koopman R, Beelen M, Stellingwerff T, et al. Coingestion of carbohydrate with protein does not further augment postexercise muscle protein synthesis. Am J Physiol. 2007;293:E833–42.Google Scholar
- 81.Mielke M, Housh TJ, Malek MH, et al. The effects of whey protein and leucine supplementation on strength, muscular endurance, and body composition during resistance training. J Exerc Physiol Online. 2009;12:39–50.Google Scholar
- 88.Tang JE, Perco JG, Moore DR, et al. Resistance training alters the response of fed state mixed muscle protein synthesis in young men. Am J Physiol. 2008;294:R172–8.Google Scholar
- 92.Walberg-Rankin J, Goldman LP, Puglisi MJ, et al. Effect of post-exercise supplement consumption on adaptations to resistance training. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004;23:322–30.Google Scholar
- 101.Fry AD, Kraemer WJ, Stone MH, et al. Endocrine and performance responses to high volume training and amino acid supplementation in elite junior weightlifters. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 1993;3:306–22.Google Scholar
- 110.Colker CM, Swain MA, Fabrucine B, et al. Effects of supplemental protein on body composition and muscular strength in healthy athletic male adults. Curr Ther Res Clin Exp. 2000;61:19–28.Google Scholar
- 117.Laskowski R, Antosiewicz J. Increased adaptability of young judo sportsmen after protein supplementation. J Sports Med Phys Fit. 2003;43:342–6.Google Scholar
- 119.Fahlström M, Fahlström PG, Lorentzon R, et al. Positive short-term subjective effect of sports drink supplementation during recovery. J Sports Med Phys Fit. 2006;46:578–84.Google Scholar
- 126.Häkkinen K, Komi PV. Electromyographic changes during strength training and detraining. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1983;6:455–60.Google Scholar
- 127.Häkkinen K, Komi PV, Tesch PA. Effect of combined concentric and eccentric strength training and detraining on force-time, muscle fibre, and metabolic characteristics of leg extensor muscles. Scand J Sports Sci. 1981;3:50–8.Google Scholar