The present study examined whether a high protein diet prevents the attenuated leukocyte redistribution in response to acute exercise caused by a large volume of high-intensity exercise training. Eight cyclists (VO2max: 64.2 ± 6.5 mL kg-1·min-1) undertook two separate weeks of high-intensity training while consuming either a high protein diet (3 g kg-1 protein·BM-1·day-1) or an energy and carbohydrate-matched control diet (1.5 g·kg-1 protein·BM-1·day-1). High-intensity training weeks were preceded by a week of normal-intensity training under the control diet. Leukocyte and lymphocyte sub-population responses to acute exercise were determined at the end of each training week. Self-reported symptoms of upper-respiratory tract infections (URTI) were monitored daily by questionnaire. Undertaking high-intensity training with a high protein diet restored leukocyte kinetics to similar levels observed during normal-intensity training: CD8+TL mobilization (normal-intensity: 29,319±13,130 cells/μL× ∼165 min vs. high-intensity with protein: 26,031±17,474 cells/μL× ∼165 min, P>0.05), CD8+TL egress (normal-intensity: 624 ± 264 cells/μL vs. high-intensity with protein: 597 ± 478 cells/μL, P>0.05). This pattern was driven by effector-memory populations mobilizing (normal-intensity: 6,145±6,227 cells/μL× ∼165 min vs. high-intensity with protein: 6,783±8,203 cells/μL× ∼165 min, P>0.05) and extravastating from blood (normal-intensity: 147±129 cells/μL vs. high-intensity with protein: 165±192 cells/μL, P>0.05). High-intensity training while consuming a high protein diet was associated with fewer symptoms of URTI compared to performing high-intensity training with a normal diet (P<0.05). To conclude, a high protein diet might reduce the incidence of URTI in athletes potentially mediated by preventing training-induced impairments in immune-surveillance.
Witard, O. C., Turner, J. E., Jackman, S. R., Kies, A. K., Jeukendrup, A. E., Bosch, J. A., & Tipton, K. D. (2013). High dietary protein restores overreaching induced impairments in leukocyte trafficking and reduces the incidence of upper respiratory tract infection in elite cyclists. Brain Behavior and Immunity. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2013.10.002