Protein+carb intake within 2 hours of exhaustive exercise improves performance the following day vs only carb

A new published study showing that carbohydrate + protein intake within two hours of cycling to failure increased the performance the next day compared to only ingesting carbohydrates.

Study design: Double-blinded, randomized, crossover design.

Subjects: Eight elite cyclists VO2max 74.0±1.6 ml/kg/min.

Method: Subjects cycled at 73% of VO2max followed by one-min intervals at 90% of VO2max until exhaustion.
During the first two hours of recovery, participants ingested either 1.2 g carbohydrate∙kg-1∙h-1 (CHO) or 0.8 g carbohydrate + 0.4 g protein∙kg-1∙h-1 (CHO+PROT).

Prolonged recovery: The following hours after the first 2 hours of recovery were identically matched for energy (127 kJ-kg) and macronutrient intake (Carbs 4.89 g/kg, protein 1.08 g/kg and fat 0.77 g/kg). The foods was custom made and pre-packaged in the form of dinner, evening carbohydrate drink, supper and breakfast. at 2, ~4, ~6 and ~16 hours after exhaustion . The dinner was consumed at the laboratory. The other meals were provided for the subjects to be eaten at their homes at the specified times. Water was ingested as they desired. They were not allowed to eat or drink anything else

After 18 hours of recovery from the first exhaustive exercise the participants was assessed with a warm up, a 5 min recovery and a 10 s sprint test followed by a 5 min recovery. Thereafter, subjects started the pre-loaded TT that consisted of 30 min of cycling at a fixed intensity (W73%), a 5 min recovery, followed by a TT to complete a specific amount of mechanical work. The total work to be completed was equivalent to 30 min (1800 s) at a workload corresponding to 100% of VO2max (Work output (kJ) = Power at VO2max (W) * 1800 s).

watt max: On the first visit to the laboratory, subjects completed incremental cycling exercises to determine the relationship between workload (W) and oxygen uptake (VO2), maximal work capacity (Wmax) and maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max).


Sprint: The mean power during this sprint was higher after CHO+PROT compared to CHO
366 (1063±54 W and 1026±53 W, respectively, p<0.01

30 min fixed: RPE was higher after CHO compared to CHO+PROT at 18 min (p=0.03)
369 and 30 min (p=0.001)
Heart rate at W73% tended to be higher after CHO compared
370 to CHO+PRO (Treatment effect: p=0.08). T-test comparisons showed that heart rate was
371 higher after CHO compared to CHO+PROT at 18 min (p=0.04) and a tendency for a higher
372 HR after 30 min (p=0.09)

TT: CHO+PROT completed the TT 8.5% faster than CHO. The TT time after CHO+PROT was
380 41:53±1:51 min corresponding to a mean power of 299±15 W. The time to complete the TT
381 after CHO was 45:26±1:32 min and corresponded to a mean power of 275±15 W (p<0.01
382 compared to CHO+PROT). The TT time one week before the interventions performed in a
rested state (CON) was 39:39±1:08, corresponding to a mean power of 313±11 W. The TT_
time for the CHO+PROT group was not significantly different from CON (p=0.12), while the_
CHO group used a significantly longer time to complete the TT compared to CON (p=0.01)._

TLDR: Protein+Carbohydrates within two hours after exhaustive cycling seems to increase the performance the day after compared to only ingesting carbohydrates within two hours.

The study:

This is my first post on the trainerroad forum. Please if this was just a mess and/or hard to understand, like confusing formatting or language don’t hesitate to give a few pointers or suggestions.

Best regards. Chris



Thanks for sharing!


Cool study and fits with most of the recovery products on the market. Great to see this advice validated!

Only backs up the fundamentals of post workout nutrition. Carbs to restore glycogen levels and protein to help assist in muscle repair. This is going to sound rude but nothing about this should be eye opening to those who have devoted any time to study post workout nutrition. Not trying to be rude by the way but can’t think of a better way to word it at the moment.


It’s always great to have replication when it comes to research science and I’m glad to have another study to point to in the recovery area.

No disagreement there. Just feel like this is one of those topics that gets beat into the ground. :man_shrugging:

Carbohydrate replenishes the glycogen levels, yes this is nothing new. Protein does stimulate protein synthesis which builds new muscles, yes. These things are pretty basic stuff concerning training physiology.

But this is the first study i have come across that actually shows increased performance in cycling concerning the timing of protein+carbohydrates and to quote the researchers "This is the first study to report that CHO+PRO supplementation during the first 2 h of
recovery compared with CHO supplementation alone resulted in greater sprint performance
18 h later. "

One thing to have in mind is that the total intake of protein is higher in the group with the CHO+Protein compared to the CHO group only. This is something that i think could effect the results.