To stimulate muscle protein synthesis, it is important to increase the plasma levels of essential amino acids (EAA), especially leucine, by ingesting proteins. Protein hydrolysate ingestion can induce postprandial hyperaminoacidemia; however, it is unclear whether protein hydrolysate is associated with higher levels of aminoacidemia compared with a free amino acid mixture when both are ingested orally. We assessed the effects of whey protein hydrolysate (WPH) ingestion on postprandial aminoacidemia, especially plasma leucine levels, compared to ingestion of a free amino acid mixture. This study was an open-label, randomized, 4 × 4 Latin square design. After 12–15 h of fasting, 11 healthy young men ingested the WPH (3.3, 5.0, or 7.5 g of protein) or the EAA mixture (2.5 g). Blood samples were collected before ingestion and at time points from 10 to 120 min after ingestion, and amino acids, insulin, glucose and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) concentrations in plasma were measured. Even though the EAA mixture and 5.0 g of the WPH contained similar amounts of EAA and leucine, the WPH was associated with significantly higher plasma EAA and leucine levels. These results suggest that the WPH can induce a higher level of aminoacidemia compared with a free amino acid mixture when both are ingested orally.
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