Published: 1 August 2022 at 11:09
Short-term high protein diets may hinder endurance athletes – new study
New research has found that microbial instability in the gut could hinder the performance of elite endurance athletes, and that short-term, high-protein diets are associated with this type of imbalance.
Researchers from across the UK analysed the performance and gut health of a group of well-matched, highly trained endurance runners, to explore the impact of both high-protein and high-carbohydrate diets.
The study found that in those following a high-protein regime, this resulted in a disturbance in the stability of the gut microbiome. This was also accompanied by a 23.3% reduction in time trial performance.
Analysis found a significantly reduced diversity and altered composition of the gut phageome, as well as higher levels of certain types of virals and bacterial compartments. Those participants whose gut microbiome was more stable performed better during time trials.
Gut imbalance impacts different people in different ways, but can manifest itself in acute symptoms such as cramps or nausea. As there is cross-talk between the gut and the brain, authors suggest this could be important.
Those following a high-carbohydrate diet resulted in an improved time trial performance of 6.5%.
Dr Justin Roberts, Associate Professor in Health and Exercise Nutrition at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and co-author of the study, said:
The study was published in the American Society for Microbiology’s journal mSystems and was carried out by researchers from Northumbria University, Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), University of Reading, Newcastle University, University of Kent, University of Hertfordshire and Northwest University in South Africa.