The role of protein intake in endurance exercise recovery, adaptation, and performance

University of Birmingham

About the Project

The School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, at the University of Birmingham, is currently offering a fully funded 3-year PhD Studentship for 2023 entry to investigate the role of protein intake in endurance exercise recovery, adaptation, and performance.

Background: Individuals engaged in intensive exercise training have greater protein requirements compared to sedentary individuals. Data from classical nitrogen balance studies suggest 1.6-1.8 g/kg body mass/d for strength training and 1.2-1.4 g/kg body mass/d for endurance training. Whereas strength training increases protein requirements to support accretion of muscle mass, endurance training may increase protein requirements due to the need to replace amino acids lost to oxidation and/or excretion, as well as to support increased protein turnover and remodelling of skeletal muscle towards a more aerobic phenotype. Total daily protein intake is just one aspect of protein nutrition for consideration in exercise training. The quality, timing, type, and amount of protein all likely play a role in maximising recovery, adaptation, and performance. Although these factors have undergone intense scrutiny over the past few decades, the work has been conducted almost exclusively in the context of recovery from resistance exercise. The metabolic demands of endurance exercise differ greatly from that of strength training and further research is needed to develop evidence-based recommendations for appropriate protein nutrition in endurance sport. Participation in endurance exercise activities such as park run, big city marathons and ultra-endurance cycling and triathlon is on the rise, especially in middle aged adults. Optimising protein nutrition in these individuals has the potential to enhance health and performance.

Project overview/ techniques: The proposed project will investigate the role of protein intake in endurance exercise recovery, adaptation, and performance. We will conduct acute and chronic diet-exercise interventions utilising an array of physiological testing techniques, including, but not limited to, assessment of aerobic fitness, muscle function, indirect calorimetry/substrate metabolism, blood metabolite and hormonal analysis. The project will also incorporate muscle biopsy sampling and there may be opportunity to apply stable isotope tracer methodologies in certain aspects of the work. Collectively, the experimental approaches provided in this project should appeal to students interested in skeletal muscle physiology, nutritional biochemistry, and exercise training.

This project will be conducted in collaboration with Volac International. Person specification: We are looking for a highly talented and dedicated PhD candidate with a 1st class or 2:1 degree in the field of sport/exercise sciences, physiology, biochemistry, or a related subject area. Applicants should have a research-orientated background. A MSc degree is desirable but not essential. Application process: Applications should be directed to Dr Carl Hulston (). To apply, please send: – Cover letter – CV – Academic transcripts – Names and contact details of two referees Expected start date: October 2023

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