Effects of Whey and Pea Protein Supplementation on Post-Eccentric Exercise Muscle Damage: A Randomized Trial

Nutrients. 2020 Aug 9;12(8):2382. doi: 10.3390/nu12082382.


This randomized trial compared pea protein, whey protein, and water-only supplementation on muscle damage, inflammation, delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS), and physical fitness test performance during a 5-day period after a 90-min eccentric exercise bout in non-athletic non-obese males (n = 92, ages 18-55 years). The two protein sources (0.9 g protein/kg divided into three doses/day) were administered under double blind procedures. The eccentric exercise protocol induced significant muscle damage and soreness, and reduced bench press and 30-s Wingate performance. Whey protein supplementation significantly attenuated post-exercise blood levels for biomarkers of muscle damage compared to water-only, with large effect sizes for creatine kinase and myoglobin during the fourth and fifth days of recovery (Cohen's d > 0.80); pea protein versus water supplementation had an intermediate non-significant effect (Cohen's d < 0.50); and no significant differences between whey and pea protein were found. Whey and pea protein compared to water supplementation had no significant effects on post-exercise DOMS and the fitness tests. In conclusion, high intake of whey protein for 5 days after intensive eccentric exercise mitigated the efflux of muscle damage biomarkers, with the intake of pea protein having an intermediate effect.

Keywords: creatine kinase; exercise; inflammation; muscle damage; myoglobin; protein.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • C-Reactive Protein / drug effects
  • Creatine Kinase / blood
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Exercise Test
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Myalgia / prevention & control*
  • Myoglobin / blood
  • Pea Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology
  • Weight Lifting / physiology
  • Whey Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Myoglobin
  • Pea Proteins
  • Whey Proteins
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Creatine Kinase

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