Liquid carbohydrate/essential amino acid ingestion during a short-term bout of resistance exercise suppresses myofibrillar protein degradation

Metabolism. 2006 May;55(5):570-7. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2005.11.011.


A number of physiological events including the level of contractile activity, nutrient status, and hormonal action influence the magnitude of exercise-induced skeletal muscle growth. However, it is not the independent action of a single mechanism, but the complex interaction between events that enhance the long-term adaptations to resistance training. The purpose of the present investigation was to examine the influence of liquid carbohydrate (CHO) and essential amino acid (EAA) ingestion during resistance exercise and modification of the immediate hormonal response on myofibrillar protein degradation as assessed by 3-methylhistidine (3-MH) excretion. After a 4-hour fast, 32 untrained young men (18-29 years) performed a single bout of resistance exercise (complete body; 3 setsx10 repetitions at 75% of 1-repetition maximum; 1-minute rest between sets), during which they consumed a 6% CHO (n=8) solution, a 6-g EAA (n=8) mixture, a combined CHO+EAA (n=8) supplement, or placebo (PLA; n=8) beverage. Resistance exercise performed in conjunction with CHO and CHO+EAA ingestion resulted in significantly elevated (P<.001) glucose and insulin concentrations above baseline, whereas EAA ingestion only increased the postexercise insulin response (P<.05). Time matched at 60 minutes, the PLA group exhibited a peak cortisol increase of 105% (P<.001) with no significant change in glucose or insulin concentrations. Conversely, the CHO and CHO+EAA groups displayed a decrease in cortisol levels of 11% and 7%, respectively. Coinciding with these hormonal response patterns were significant differences in myofibrillar protein degradation. Ingestion of the EAA and CHO treatments attenuated 3-MH excretion 48 hours after the exercise bout. Moreover, this response was synergistically potentiated when the 2 treatments were combined, with CHO+EAA ingestion resulting in a 27% reduction (P<.01) in 3-MH excretion. In contrast, the PLA group displayed a 56% increase (P<.01) in 3-MH excretion. These data demonstrate that not only does CHO and EAA ingestion during the exercise bout suppress exercise-induced cortisol release; the stimulatory effect of resistance exercise on myofibrillar protein degradation can be attenuated, most dramatically when the treatments are combined (CHO+EAA). Through an "anticatabolic effect," this altered balance may better favor the conservation of myofibrillar protein.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amino Acids, Essential / administration & dosage*
  • Area Under Curve
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Insulin / blood
  • Male
  • Methylhistidines / urine
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Regression Analysis


  • Amino Acids, Essential
  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Insulin
  • Methylhistidines
  • Muscle Proteins
  • 3-methylhistidine
  • Hydrocortisone