Research reveals varying protein supplement performance for men and women

While the supplement helped training intensity in women, it did not improve intensity in men, instead resulting in a modest negative effect

Consuming a protein supplement during carbohydrate-restricted training was helpful for improving training intensity in women, but not in men, according to recent research to be presented at The Physiological Society’s Annual Conference Physiology 2021.

Most nutrition guidelines for athletes are reportedly based on research in men only. This study, by Dr Tanja Oosthuyse and her colleagues, emphasises why this shouldn’t be the case: nutritional research findings in men don’t always apply to women.

While the supplement helped training intensity in women, it did not improve intensity in men, instead resulting in a modest negative effect. It made exercise feel harder for them because their bodies were working harder to break down the supplement, the researchers say.

Future studies need to determine whether ingesting protein hydrolysate supplements during carbohydrate-restricted training over a longer time frame of weeks or months will be beneficial in women.

In this study, the researchers did not consider menstrual phase. Additional follow up studies are necessary to determine whether the improved training intensity when ingesting a protein hydrolysate compared with placebo-water is specific to menstrual phase.

Study author Tanja Oosthuyse said: “The application of the findings from our study are purely for the specialised training tactic of overnight fasted carbohydrate-restricted exercise which is done to enhance training.

“Racing nutrition, however, is very different and at the moment guidelines are standard for both men and women. We need to specify potential differences so that both men and women can train and race at the highest possible calibre.”

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