Postexercise protein supplementation improves health and muscle soreness during basic military training in Marine recruits

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2004 Mar;96(3):951-6. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00811.2003. Epub 2003 Dec 2.


Elevated postexercise amino acid availability has been demonstrated to enhance muscle protein synthesis acutely, but the long-term impact of postexercise protein supplementation on variables such as health, muscle soreness, and function are unclear. Healthy male US Marine recruits from six platoons (US Marine Corps Base, Parris Island, SC; n = 387; 18.9 +/- 0.1 yr, 74.7 +/- 1.1 kg, 13.8 +/- 0.4% body fat) were randomly assigned to three treatments within each platoon. Nutrients supplemented immediately postexercise during the 54-day basic training were either placebo (0 g carbohydrate, 0 g protein, 0 g fat), control (8, 0, 3), or protein supplement (8, 10, 3). Subjects and observers making measurements and data analysis were blinded to subject groupings. Compared with placebo and control groups, the protein-supplemented group had an average of 33% fewer total medical visits, 28% fewer visits due to bacterial/viral infections, 37% fewer visits due to muscle/joint problems, and 83% fewer visits due to heat exhaustion. Recruits experiencing heat exhaustion had greater body mass, lean, fat, and water losses. Muscle soreness immediately postexercise was reduced by protein supplementation vs. placebo and control groups on both days 34 and 54. Postexercise protein supplementation may not only enhance muscle protein deposition but it also has significant potential to positively impact health, muscle soreness, and tissue hydration during prolonged intense exercise training, suggesting a potential therapeutic approach for the prevention of health problems in severely stressed exercising populations.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Composition / drug effects
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Health
  • Heat Exhaustion / drug therapy
  • Heat Exhaustion / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Military Medicine*
  • Muscle Fatigue / drug effects*
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology
  • South Carolina


  • Dietary Proteins