Leucine-protein supplemented recovery feeding enhances subsequent cycling performance in well-trained men

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2011 Apr;36(2):242-53. doi: 10.1139/h10-104.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether a practical leucine-protein, high-carbohydrate postexercise feeding regimen could improve recovery, as measured by subsequent cycling performance and mechanistic markers, relative to control feeding. In a crossover, 10 male cyclists performed 2- to 2.5-h interval training bouts on 3 consecutive evenings, ingesting either leucine-protein, high-carbohydrate nutrition (0.1/0.4/1.2/0.2 g·kg(-1)·h(-1); leucine, protein, carbohydrate, fat, respectively) or isocaloric control (0.06/1.6/0.2 g·kg(-1)·h(-1); protein, carbohydrate, fat, respectively) nutrition for 1.5 h postexercise. Throughout the experimental period diet was controlled, energy and macronutrient intake balanced, and protein intake clamped at 1.6 g·kg(-1)·day(-1). The alternate supplement was provided the next morning, thereby isolating the postexercise nutrition effect. Following 39 h of recovery, cyclists performed a repeat-sprint performance test. Postexercise leucine-protein ingestion improved mean sprint power by 2.5% (99% confidence limit, ±2.6%; p = 0.013) and reduced perceived overall tiredness during the sprints by 13% (90% confidence limit, ±9.2%), but perceptions of leg tiredness and soreness were unaffected. Before exercise, creatine-kinase concentration was lowered by 19% (90% confidence limits, ±18%), but lactate dehydrogenase and pressure-pain threshold were unaltered. There was a small reduction in anger (25% ± 18%), but other moods were unchanged. Plasma leucine (3-fold) and essential amino acid (47%) concentrations were elevated postexercise. Net nitrogen balance trended mildly negative in both conditions (mean ± SD: leucine-protein, -20 ± 46 mg·kg(-1) per 24 h; control, -25 ± 36 mg·kg(-1) per 24 h). The ingestion of a leucine-protein supplement along with other high-carbohydrate food following intense training on consecutive days enhances subsequent high-intensity endurance performance and may attenuate muscle membrane disruption in well-trained male cyclists.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Athletic Performance*
  • Bicycling*
  • Creatine Kinase / metabolism
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / metabolism
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Leucine / administration & dosage*
  • Leucine / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Nitrogen / metabolism
  • Physical Exertion


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Creatine Kinase
  • Leucine
  • Nitrogen