The impact of dietary protein supplementation on recovery from resistance exercise-induced muscle damage: A systematic review with meta-analysis

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2023 Aug;77(8):767-783. doi: 10.1038/s41430-022-01250-y. Epub 2022 Dec 13.


Background: It is unknown whether dietary protein consumption can attenuate resistance exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD). Managing EIMD may accelerate muscle recovery and allow frequent, high-quality exercise to promote muscle adaptations. This systematic review and meta-analysis examined the impact of peri-exercise protein supplementation on resistance EIMD.

Methods: A literature search was conducted on PubMed, SPORTDiscus, and Web of Science up to March 2021 for relevant articles. PEDro criteria were used to assess bias within included studies. A Hedges' g effect size (ES) was calculated for indirect markers of EIMD at h post-exercise. Weighted ESs were included in a random effects model to determine overall ESs over time.

Results: Twenty-nine studies were included in the systematic review and 40 trials were included in ≥1 meta-analyses (16 total). There were significant overall effects of protein for preserving isometric maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) at 96 h (0.563 [0.232, 0.894]) and isokinetic MVC at 24 h (0.639 [0.116, 1.162]), 48 h (0.447 [0.104, 0.790]), and 72 h (0.569 [0.136, 1.002]). Overall ESs were large in favour of protein for attenuating creatine kinase concentration at 48 h (0.836 [-0.001, 1.673]) and 72 h (1.335 [0.294, 2.376]). Protein supplementation had no effect on muscle soreness compared with the control.

Conclusion: Peri-exercise protein consumption could help maintain maximal strength and lower creatine kinase concentration following resistance exercise but not reduce muscle soreness. Conflicting data may be due to methodological divergencies between studies. Standardised methods and data reporting for EIMD research are needed.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Creatine Kinase / metabolism
  • Dietary Proteins / metabolism
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Myalgia* / metabolism
  • Myalgia* / prevention & control
  • Resistance Training*


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Creatine Kinase