Research Review - “High dietary protein restores overreaching induced impairments...”

In today’s research review, we explore an interesting study done on elite cyclists titled “High dietary protein restores overreaching induced impairments in leukocyte trafficking and reduces the incidence of upper respiratory tract infection in elite cyclists,” authored by Oliver Witard, et al. You can view the study by clicking the link here. With everything going on in the world right now due to coronavirus, a significant interest has been sparked in immune system improvement through various methods, including diet, exercise, and supplementation. I will preface this review by saying that there is absolutely no supplement, diet, or workout program that is going to cure or prevent a person from getting the virus. None. Anyone that tells you otherwise is probably just trying to sell you something. However, the spread of the virus has brought immune health to the forefront of society’s collective minds, and rightfully so. It is imperative that at critical times like this we separate fact from fiction, and that is exactly what our mission here at Upper Echelon Nutrition is.

Now, for a little background to this study. We must first understand that exercise, when looked at a macro scale, is beneficial for various health markers. This is widely accepted as fact and there is substantial research backing this. However, when looking at things from a micro scale, it is also true that there are times when training and exercise can be slightly detrimental to one’s health, specifically during times of overreaching (usually planned) and more seriously during overtraining (usually unplanned). Planned overreaching is often associated with higher intensity training cycles and is useful and often necessary to make significant progress. There is a fine line that, when crossed, leads to overtraining, which is actually detrimental to our long-term progress. This is why it is so important to have a well thought-out training program that builds in waves of intensity while maintaining consistency. As noted in this study (Recovery of the immune system after exercise), “the notion that prolonged, intense exercise causes an open window of immunodepression during recovery after exercise is well accepted. Repeated exercise bouts or intensified training without sufficient recovery may increase the risk of illness.” Pretty simple. So the key point to focus on is your recovery. Optimal recovery is determined by everything you do before and after you workout - how you sleep, what/when you eat, and what other activities you perform. 

Getting back to the study at hand. It is interesting to note that a high protein diet “combined with high-intensity training was associated with fewer symptoms of URTI compared to performing high-intensity training with a normal diet.” The authors conclude that a high protein diet (3 g / kg) might reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections in athletes by potentially mitigating training-induced impairment of the immune system. 

What’s the conclusion? Well, your post-workout protein shake won’t make you immune to coronavirus and every other disease out there, but, consuming high protein throughout the day and after your workouts can help mitigate the immunosuppressive effects of high-intensity training and make you healthier overall. If you are training heavy, hard, and/or often, it may be wise to up your protein intake to the levels mentioned in the study, which again is approximately 3 g / kg of bodyweight. Drink your protein!

If you’re looking for a great tasting, clean, and all-natural post-workout protein source, check out our Whey Protein Isolate. Each serving provides 22 grams of some of the highest-quality whey protein out there. The ingredients are all-natural - we only use cocoa powder, Himalayan rock salt, and Stevia for flavoring - resulting in a protein that quite simply tastes amazing. On top of that, each batch of our whey isolate undergoes a strict quality control process that includes independent third party testing to ensure that our protein is exactly what we say it is, free of any harmful substances or contaminants.