The role of protein hydrolysates for exercise-induced skeletal muscle recovery and adaptation: a current perspective

Paul T Morgan, Leigh Breen

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The protein supplement industry is expanding rapidly and estimated to have a multi-billion market worth. Recent research has centred on understanding how the manufacturing processes of protein supplements may impact muscle recovery and remodeling. The hydrolysed forms of protein undergo a further heating extraction process during production which may contribute to amino acids (AA) appearing in circulation at a slightly quicker rate, or greater amplitude, than the intact form. Whilst the relative significance of the rate of aminoacidemia to muscle protein synthesis is debated, it has been suggested that protein hydrolysates, potentially through the more rapid delivery and higher proportion of di-, tri- and smaller oligo-peptides into circulation, are superior to intact non-hydrolysed proteins and free AAs in promoting skeletal muscle protein remodeling and recovery. However, despite these claims, there is currently insufficient evidence to support superior muscle anabolic properties compared with intact non-hydrolysed proteins and/or free AA controls. Further research is warranted with appropriate protein controls, particularly in populations consuming insufficient amounts of protein, to support and/or refute an important muscle anabolic role of protein hydrolysates. The primary purpose of this review is to provide the reader with a current perspective on the potential anabolic effects of protein hydrolysates in individuals wishing to optimise recovery from, and maximise adaptation to, exercise training.

Original languageEnglish
Article number44
JournalNutrition & Metabolism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2021


  • Concentrates
  • Hydrolysates
  • Isolates
  • Muscle protein anabolism
  • Protein synthesis
  • Supplementation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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