With that being said, it is actually quite astonishing that Stefan M. Pasiakos and colleagues from the Military Nutrition Division at the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick are the first to take a look at the muscle anabolic and catabolic effects of regular (unloaded) and loaded cardio training in 40 free-living healthy, physically fit (peak oxygen uptake, VO2peak 40/60 mL/ kg/ min), adults (37 males and 3 females), normal weight men and women between the ages of 18–39 years.
In said study, the volunteers were then randomly assigned to one of four experimental groups, each
of whom performed a single 90 min exercise bout.
- Two groups performed CE and the other two performed LC.
- One of each of the exercise groups received EAA drinks to consume during exercise, and the other groups received control (CON) drinks.
"[...] intent was not to determine temporal changes in MPS within an exercise mode (with or without EAA), but to examine MPS responses between LC and CE during exercise and recovery independently" (Pasiakos. 2015).Another thing that was just like in any other study, though, was the standardization of diet and physical activity, the scientists describe as follows:
"Volunteers completed 3 d diet and activity records at baseline, and similar to our previous work (Pasiakos. 2011), these records were used to individually prescribe 7 d lead-in diets to maintain body weight and to limit the potential confounding effect of diet on outcome measures. Compliance was confirmed by 24 h dietary recalls conducted every two days during the lead-in phase (Food Processor SQL1, version 10, ESHA Research, Salem, OR) (Table 1). Volunteers were also instructed to maintain activity levels reported at baseline for the first five days of the lead-in phase. All resistive and endurance-type activity was prohibited 48 h before data collection to minimize any potential residual effects of previous exercise on protein turnover" (Pasiakos. 2015).The actual news is however not the dietary standardization what you are (rightly) interested in is probably the exercise protocol which is - and I will get to that in the bottom line - not ideal: While the LC, i.e. the load carriage training, was performed by walking on a treadmill while wearing a weighted vest equivalent to 30% of baseline body mass, the CE, i.e. the control endurance exercise, was non-weight bearing and performed on a cycle ergometer (Lode, BV, Netherlands), of which the scientists say that they used it to "allow for comparisons with our previous studies" (Pasiakos. 2015).
|Illustration 1: Graphical overview of the study design (Pasiakos. 2015) | EAA = 10g of EAAs, CON = non-nutritious control drink; LC = load carrying cardio on a treadmill, CE = control endurance exercise on a stationary bike.|
to elicit a similar energy cost (intended energy expenditure was 1050 kcal /90 min) between
LC and CE. Lastly, ...
"[m]atching the intensity and energy cost was done to isolate the effects of the possible differences in mechanical force and contractile properties of LC and CE from the relative intensity and energy cost of the exercise bout [and a] familiarization trial was conducted to ensure the accuracy of the exercise prescription and the ability of the volunteer to complete the prescribed exercise bout" (Pasiakos. 2015).As previously alluded to, the intra-workout beverage the subjects consumed was either a high EAA drink (10 g EAA: 0.7 g histidine, 0.7 g isoleucine, 3.6 g leucine, 1.2 g lysine, 0.3 g methionine, 1.4 g phenylalanine, 1.0 g threonine, and 1 g valine) or an identically looking placebo drink (non-nutritive).
|Figure 1: Overview of protein fluxes (synthesis vs. breakdown and oxidation) and subsequent net protein balance in the four treatment groups, i.e. loaded and control cardio with and with out EAA (Pasiakos. 2015)|
- The EAA-mediated decrease in muscle breakdown was complemented by both enhanced mixed-muscle and sarcoplasmic MPS during exercise.
- During the recovery phase, the mixed muscle and sarcoplasmic protein synthesis in response to loaded cardio training were higher than they were in the control group.
- Pasiakos, Stefan M., et al. "Leucine-enriched essential amino acid supplementation during moderate steady state exercise enhances postexercise muscle protein synthesis." The American journal of clinical nutrition 94.3 (2011): 809-818.
- Pasiakos SM, McClung HL, Margolis LM, Murphy NE, Lin GG, Hydren JR, et al. "Human Muscle Protein Synthetic Responses during Weight-Bearing and Non-Weight-Bearing Exercise: A Comparative Study of Exercise Modes and Recovery Nutrition." PLoS ONE 10.10 (2015): Online only.