Active Nutrition

Studies into dairy protein for endurance athletes


For many people, hearing the words “protein” and “performance” automatically conjures up images of bodybuilders and increasing muscle tissues. It can be tempting for endurance athletes, for whom large muscles aren’t the priority, to pay less attention to protein, focusing more on carbohydrates for prolonged energy release.

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But recent research demonstrates that protein consumption can be just as valuable for endurance sports. There is evidence it improves recovery after endurance training and competitions. And recovery, of course, is fundamental to preparation for the next exercise session.

Research like this is critical to us at FrieslandCampina Ingredients, because with us, the proof is in our science. This is why we collaborate extensively with research institutes and universities as well as industry leaders.

In a study at NUTRIM, Maastricht University, 48 young, healthy, endurance-trained men, ingested either a carbohydrate-only beverage or one containing both carbohydrate and either 15, 30 or 45 grams of dairy protein just after endurance exercise. Researchers monitored the digestion and absorption rate of protein, and to what extent it stimulated muscle protein synthesis in these men. They found that ingestion of protein resulted in a positive whole-body net protein balance and consuming 30 grams of protein maximised muscle protein synthesis rates.

This conclusion comes less than a year after Knuiman et al, also published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that protein consumption improves VO2max – the maximum oxygen update and an indicator of overall fitness – among a group of young endurance athletes. That study was conducted with Excellion™, FrieslandCampina Ingredients’ calcium caseinate ingredient.

While carbohydrates are, of course, essential fuel for endurance athletes, it’s clear that protein plays an extremely important part in muscle preservation and repair. When developing nutritional products for endurance athletes, brand owners should seek to incorporate high quality dairy proteins to optimise their customers’ recovery and enhance their resilience, and so helping them to meet their performance goals.

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