Breaking News on Supplements, Health & Nutrition - Europe US edition | APAC edition

News > Research

Read more breaking news



Exercise and high protein diet may increase gut microbiota diversity: Research

By Nicola Cottam , 18-Jun-2014
Last updated on 18-Jun-2014 at 11:40 GMT2014-06-18T11:40:15Z

Athletes consuming high protein diets may have greater gut microbiota diversity, research has suggested.
Athletes consuming high protein diets may have greater gut microbiota diversity, research has suggested.

Exercise and ‘extreme' high protein diet could have beneficial impact on gut microbiota diversity, according to research published in the British Medical Journal. 

By comparing the diets of professional rugby players with two control groups of lay-subjects, the scientists discovered a correlation between exercise, protein consumption and increased levels of beneficial gut bacteria.

Diet plays an important role in determining the quantity and diversity of gut microbiota but the relationship with exercise is relatively unknown, the researchers wrote. 

“Exercise seems to be another important factor in the relationship between the microbiota, host immunity and host metabolism, with diet playing an important role,” the team of researchers at the University College Cork said.

Breeding diversity

A comparison of the diets and exercise regimes of the 40 athletes and two control groups of 23 lay-subjects each revealed a broader diversity of gut micro-organisms in the athletes, with 22 distinct phyla - that compose gut flora - compared to 11 for the controls.

This positively correlated with higher protein consumption and creatine kinase (CK) production – markers of extreme exercise, the authors said. They noted a reduction in gut inflammation and higher CK levels in athletes.

An increase in the bacteria akkermansia mucinphilla in athletes was also observed, which was inversely correlated with obesity and other related metabolic disorders, the researchers said.

High protein counts

Subjects in the two control groups were recruited based on their physical size relative to the rugby players. The average body mass index (BMI) of the first control group was 25 and in the second it was 28. The athletes’ average BMI was 29.

The sportsmen consumed a much higher level of calories, including proteins, saturated fat, sugar and carbohydrates, than the control groups and significantly higher quantities of fibre, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat than the high BMI control group.

Protein accounted for 22% of the total energy intake of the athletes, compared with 16% in the low BMI and 15% in the high BMI control groups.

Meat accounted for the majority of dietary protein consumed by all three groups, but supplements including whey protein were the second highest in athlete group accounting for 15%.

The researchers concluded that microbiota diversity was positively correlated with protein intake and CK, suggesting that diet and exercise were drivers of biodiversity in the gut.

“Diversity is important in all ecosystems to promote stability and performance. Microbiota diversity may become a new biomarker or indicator of health.”

Low levels of gut microbiota have been associated with conditions such as autism, glycemic index (GI) disease and obesity, the researchers added. 


Source: British Medical Journal 

Published online ahead of print,  

“Exercise and associated dietary extremes impact on gut microbial diversity” 

Authors: S. F. Clarke, E. F. Murphy, O. O’Sullivan, A. J. Lucey, M. Humphreys, A. Hogan, P. Hayes, M. O’Reilly, I. B. Jeffery, R. Wood-Martin, D. M. Kerins, E. Quigley, R. Paul Ross, P. W. O’Toole, M. G. Molloy, E. Falvey, F. Shanahan, P. D. Cotter 

Related products

Live Supplier Webinars

Polyphenols tipped to become the way to innovate in Sports Nutrition
Alpha & Omega in Sports Nutrition – Using Omega 3’s and A-GPC to improve performance and recovery.
KD Pharma
Orally bioavailable standardized botanical derivatives in sport nutrition: special focus on recovery in post-intense physical activities
Collagen in motion: move freely and keep your injuries in check
Leading manufacturer of gelatine and collagen peptides
Life’s too short for slow proteins. Whey proteins hydrolysates: Fast delivery for enhanced performance
Arla Foods Ingredients
What it Takes to Compete and Win in Today’s Sports Nutrition Market
Sports Nutrition Snapshot: Key regional drivers and delivery format innovations
William Reed Business Media
Gutsy performance: How can microbiome modulation help athletes and weekend warriors
William Reed Business Media
Pushing the boundaries: Where’s the line between ‘cutting edge nutrition’ and doping
William Reed Business Media

On demand Supplier Webinars

High-amylose maize starch may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes: what does this qualified health claim mean?
Balancing Innovation and Risk in Sports Nutrition Ingredients
Explaining bio-hacking: is there a marketing opportunity for food companies?
William Reed Business Media
Personalized Nutrition – how an industry can take part in shaping the future of Nutrition
BASF Nutrition & Health
Find out Nutritional and ingredient lifecycle solutions and strategies!
Is the time rIpe for I-nutrition?
William Reed Business Media
The Advantage of Outsourcing Fermentation-based Manufacturing Processes
Evonik Health Care
All supplier webinars