We examined the effects of whey versus collagen protein on skeletal muscle cell signaling responses associated with mitochondrial biogenesis and protein synthesis in recovery from an acute training session completed with low carbohydrate availability. In a repeated-measures design (after adhering to a 36-hr exercise-dietary intervention to standardize preexercise muscle glycogen), eight males completed a 75-min nonexhaustive cycling protocol and consumed 22 g of a hydrolyzed collagen blend (COLLAGEN) or whey (WHEY) protein 45 min prior to exercise, 22 g during exercise, and 22 g immediately postexercise. Exercise decreased (p < .05) muscle glycogen content by comparable levels from pre- to postexercise in both trials (≈300-150 mmol/kg·dry weight). WHEY protein induced greater increases in plasma branched chain amino acids (p = .03) and leucine (p = .02) than COLLAGEN. Exercise induced (p < .05) similar increases in PGC-1α (fivefold) mRNA at 1.5 hr postexercise between conditions, although no effect of exercise (p > .05) was observed for p53, Parkin, and Beclin1 mRNA. Exercise suppressed (p < .05) p70S6K1 activity in both conditions immediately postexercise (≈25 fmol·min-1·mg-1). Postexercise feeding increased p70S6K1 activity at 1.5 hr postexercise (p < .05), the magnitude of which was greater (p < .05) in WHEY (180 ± 105 fmol·min-1·mg-1) versus COLLAGEN (73 ± 42 fmol·min-1·mg-1). We conclude that protein composition does not modulate markers of mitochondrial biogenesis when in recovery from a training session deliberately completed with low carbohydrate availability. By contrast, whey protein augments postexercise p70S6K activity compared with hydrolyzed collagen, as likely mediated via increased leucine availability.
Keywords: CHO restriction; autophagy; glycogen.