Purpose: The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of a 6-week, low-dose bovine colostrum (BC) supplementation on exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) and performance decline in soccer players following the Loughborough Intermittent Shuttle Test (LIST) during a competitive season period.
Methods: In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled design, two groups of soccer players were allocated to a 3.2 g/day of whey protein (WP, N = 8) or BC (N = 10) and performed a pre- and a post-supplementation LIST. Maximum isometric voluntary contraction, squat jump (SQJ), countermovement jump, muscle soreness, blood cell counts, creatine kinase (CK), C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) were monitored for 2, 24, 48, 72 h post-LIST.
Results: LIST induced transient increases in leukocytes, granulocytes, CK, muscle soreness, CRP, IL-6 and declines in lymphocytes and performance indices. Supplementation resulted in a faster recovery of SQJ, CK and CRP compared to pre-supplementation kinetics (trial × time: p = 0.001, 0.056, 0.014, respectively) and lower incremental area under the curve (iAUC) for IL-6, only in the BC group [pre-: 31.1 (6.78-46.9), post-: 14.0 (-0.16 to 23.5) pg h/ml, p = 0.034]. Direct comparison of the two groups after supplementation demonstrated higher iAUC of SQJ [WP: -195.2 (-229.0 to (-52.5)), BC: -15.8 (-93.2 to 16.8) cm h, p = 0.034], a trend for lower iAUC of CK in the BC group [WP: 18,785 (4651-41,357), BC: 8842 (4807-14,802) U h/L, p = 0.081] and a significant intervention × time interaction for CRP (p = 0.038) in favor of BC.
Conclusions: Post-exercise EIMD may be reduced and performance better maintained by a low dose of BC administration following LIST in soccer players.
Keywords: Bovine colostrum; Exercise-induced muscle damage; Inflammation; Loughborough Intermittent Shuttle Test; Soccer; Squat jump.