The aim of this study was to determine the changes in endurance performance and metabolic, hormonal, and inflammatory markers induced by endurance stress (marathon race) in a combined strategy of training and dietary protein supplementation. The study was designed as a randomised controlled trial consisting of regular endurance training without and with a daily intake of a soy protein-based supplement over a three-month period in 2 × 15 (10 males and 5 females per group) endurance-trained adults. Body composition (body mass, BMI, and fat mass) was determined, and physical fitness was measured by treadmill ergometry at baseline and after 3 months of intervention; changes in exercise-induced stress and inflammatory markers (CK, myoglobin, interleukin-6, cortisol, and leukocytes) were also determined before and after a marathon competition; eating behaviour was documented before and after intervention by a three-day diet diary. Although no significant influence on endurance performance was observed, the protein supplementation regime reduced the exercise-induced muscle stress response. Furthermore, a protein intake of ≥20% of total energy intake led to a lower-level stress reaction after the marathon race. In conclusion, supplementary protein intake may influence exercise-induced muscle stress reactions by changing cellular metabolism and inflammatory pathways.
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