IOC consensus statement: Dietary Supplements and the high-performance athlete

Br J Sports Med. 2018 Apr;52(7):439-455. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2018-099027. Epub 2018 Mar 14.    Maughan RJ, Burke LM, Dvorak J, Larson-Meyer DE, Peeling P, Phillips SM, Rawson ES, Walsh NP, Garthe I, Geyer H, Meeusen R, van Loon LJC, Shirreffs SM, Spriet LL, Stuart M, Vernec A, Currell K, Ali VM, Budgett RG, Ljungqvist A, Mountjoy M, Pitsiladis YP, Soligard T, Erdener U, Engebretsen L.    Link to paper


“Nutrition usually makes a small but potentially valuable contribution to successful performance in elite athletes, and dietary supplements can make a minor contribution to this nutrition programme. Nonetheless, supplement use is widespread at all levels of sport. Products described as supplements target different issues, including (1) the management of micronutrient deficiencies, (2) supply of convenient forms of energy and macronutrients, and (3) provision of direct benefits to performance or (4) indirect benefits such as supporting intense training regimens. The appropriate use of some supplements can benefit the athlete, but others may harm the athlete's health, performance, and/or livelihood and reputation (if an antidoping rule violation results). A complete nutritional assessment should be undertaken before decisions regarding supplement use are made. Supplements claiming to directly or indirectly enhance performance are typically the largest group of products marketed to athletes, but only a few (including caffeine, creatine, specific buffering agents and nitrate) have good evidence of benefits. However, responses are affected by the scenario of use and may vary widely between individuals because of factors that include genetics, the microbiome and habitual diet. Supplements intended to enhance performance should be thoroughly trialled in training or simulated competition before being used in competition. Inadvertent ingestion of substances prohibited under the antidoping codes that govern elite sport is a known risk of taking some supplements. Protection of the athlete's health and awareness of the potential for harm must be paramount; expert professional opinion and assistance is strongly advised before an athlete embarks on supplement use.”

Recent perspectives regarding the role of Dietary Protein for the promotion of muscle hypertrophy with resistance exercise training

Stokes T, Hector AJ, Morton RW, McGlory C, Phillips SM. : Nutrients. 2018 Feb 7;10(2). pii: E180. doi: 10.3390/nu10020180   Link to paper


“Skeletal muscle supports locomotion and serves as the largest site of postprandial glucose disposal; thus it is a critical organ for physical and metabolic health. Skeletal muscle mass is regulated by the processes of muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and muscle protein breakdown (MPB), both of which are sensitive to external loading and aminoacidemia. Hyperaminoacidemia results in a robust but transient increase in rates of MPS and a mild suppression of MPB. Resistance exercise potentiates the aminoacidemia-induced rise in MPS that, when repeated over time, results in gradual radial growth of skeletal muscle (i.e., hypertrophy). Factors that affect MPS include both quantity and composition of the amino acid source. Specifically, MPS is stimulated in a dose-responsive manner and the primary amino acid agonist of this process is leucine. MPB also appears to be regulated in part by protein intake, which can exert a suppressive effect on MPB. At high protein doses, the suppression of MPB may interfere with skeletal muscle adaptation following resistance exercise. In this review, we examine recent advancements in our understanding of how protein ingestion impacts skeletal muscle growth following resistance exercise in young adults during energy balance and energy restriction. We also provide practical recommendations for exercisers who wish to maximize the hypertrophic response of skeletal muscle during resistance exercise training.”

International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise

Jäger R, Kerksick CM, Campbell BI, Cribb PJ, Wells SD, Skwiat TM, Purpura M, Ziegenfuss TN, Ferrando AA, Arent SM, Smith-Ryan AE, Stout JR, Arciero PJ, Ormsbee MJ, Taylor LW, Wilborn CD, Kalman DS, Kreider RB, Willoughby DS, Hoffman JR, Krzykowski JL, Antonio J. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017 Jun 20;14:20. doi: 10.1186/s12970-017-0177-8. eCollection 2017     Link to paper 


”The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) provides an objective and critical review related to the intake of protein for healthy, exercising individuals. Based on the current available literature, the position of the Society is as follows:An acute exercise stimulus, particularly resistance exercise, and protein ingestion both stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and are synergistic when protein consumption occurs before or after resistance exercise.For building muscle mass and for maintaining muscle mass through a positive muscle protein balance, an overall daily protein intake in the range of 1.4-2.0 g protein/kg body weight/day (g/kg/d) is sufficient for most exercising individuals, a value that falls in line within the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range published by the Institute of Medicine for protein.Higher protein intakes (2.3-3.1 g/kg/d) may be needed to maximize the retention of lean body mass in resistance-trained subjects during hypocaloric periods.There is novel evidence that suggests higher protein intakes (>3.0 g/kg/d) may have positive effects on body composition in resistance-trained individuals (i.e., promote loss of fat mass).Recommendations regarding the optimal protein intake per serving for athletes to maximize MPS are mixed and are dependent upon age and recent resistance exercise stimuli. General recommendations are 0.25 g of a high-quality protein per kg of body weight, or an absolute dose of 20-40 g.Acute protein doses should strive to contain 700-3000 mg of leucine and/or a higher relative leucine content, in addition to a balanced array of the essential amino acids (EAAs).These protein doses should ideally be evenly distributed, every 3-4 h, across the day.The optimal time period during which to ingest protein is likely a matter of individual tolerance, since benefits are derived from pre- or post-workout ingestion; however, the anabolic effect of exercise is long-lasting (at least 24 h), but likely diminishes with increasing time post-exercise.While it is possible for physically active individuals to obtain their daily protein requirements through the consumption of whole foods, supplementation is a practical way of ensuring intake of adequate protein quality and quantity, while minimizing caloric intake, particularly for athletes who typically complete high volumes of training. Rapidly digested proteins that contain high proportions of essential amino acids (EAAs) and adequate leucine, are most effective in stimulating MPS. Different types and quality of protein can affect amino acid bioavailability following protein supplementation. Athletes should consider focusing on whole food sources of protein that contain all of the EAAs (i.e., it is the EAAs that are required to stimulate MPS). Endurance athletes should focus on achieving adequate carbohydrate intake to promote optimal performance; the addition of protein may help to offset muscle damage and promote recovery. Pre-sleep casein protein intake (30-40 g) provides increases in overnight MPS and metabolic rate without influencing lipolysis.”

Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation

Phillips SM & Van Loon LJ (2011). Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation. Journal of Sports Science 29 Suppl 1:S29-38. doi:10.1080/02640414.2011.619204.  ➤ Link to paper


“Opinion on the role of protein in promoting athletic performance is divided along the lines of how much aerobic-based versus resistance-based activity the athlete undertakes. Athletes seeking to gain muscle mass and strength are likely to consume higher amounts of dietary protein than their endurance-trained counterparts. The main belief behind the large quantities of dietary protein consumption in resistance-trained athletes is that it is needed to generate more muscle protein. Athletes may require protein for more than just alleviation of the risk for deficiency, inherent in the dietary guidelines, but also to aid in an elevated level of functioning and possibly adaptation to the exercise stimulus. It does appear, however, that there is a good rationale for recommending to athletes protein intakes that are higher than the RDA. Our consensus opinion is that leucine, and possibly the other branched-chain amino acids, occupy a position of prominence in stimulating muscle protein synthesis; that protein intakes in the range of 1.3-1.8 g · kg(-1) · day(-1) consumed as 3-4 isonitrogenous meals will maximize muscle protein synthesis. These recommendations may also be dependent on training status: experienced athletes would require less, while more protein should be consumed during periods of high frequency/intensity training. Elevated protein consumption, as high as 1.8-2.0 g · kg(-1) · day(-1) depending on the caloric deficit, may be advantageous in preventing lean mass losses during periods of energy restriction to promote fat loss.”

The role of milk-and soy-based protein in support of muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein accretion in young and elderly persons

Phillips SM, Tang JE, & Moore DR (2009). The role of milk-and soy-based protein in support of muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein accretion in young and elderly persons. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 28(4):343-354    ➤ Link to paper


“The balance between muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and muscle protein breakdown (MPB) is dependent on protein consumption and the accompanying hyperaminoacidemia, which stimulates a marked rise in MPS and mild suppression of MPB. In the fasting state, however, MPS declines sharply and MPB is increased slightly. Ultimately, the balance between MPS and MPB determines the net rate of muscle growth. Accretion of new muscle mass beyond that of normal growth can occur following periods of intense resistance exercise. Such muscle accretion is an often sought-after goal of athletes. There needs to be, however, an increased appreciation of the role that preservation of muscle can play in offsetting morbidities associated with the sarcopenia of aging, such as type 2 diabetes and declines in metabolic rate that can lead to fat mass accumulation followed by the onset or progression of obesity. Emerging evidence shows that consumption of different types of proteins can have different stimulatory effects on the amplitude and possibly duration that MPS is elevated after feeding; this may be particularly significant after resistance exercise. This effect may be due to differences in the fundamental amino acid composition of the protein (i.e., its amino acid score) and its rate of digestion. Milk proteins, specifically casein and whey, are the highest quality proteins and are quite different in terms of their rates of digestion and absorption. New data suggest that whey protein is better able to support MPS than is soy protein, a finding that may explain the greater ability of whey protein to support greater net muscle mass gains with resistance exercise. This review focuses on evidence showing the differences in responses of MPS, and ultimately muscle protein accretion, to consumption of milk- and soy-based supplemental protein sources in humans.”