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Public Health and Sport Sciences

Optimising exercise and sustainable nutrition strategies for performance, hypertrophy, and weight loss

Our research

Background: Feeding a growing world population sustainably

With a rising world population, increased urbanization and wealth creation, demand for food is increasing. Therefore, developing a sustainable food future is of vital importance. Current and future generations need to view developments in our understanding of human nutrition through the lens of mounting challenges associated with the sustainability of increased production.

Can alternative protein sources replace animal protein?

Compounding considerations concerning overall food sustainability, is the increasing recognition that various populations (e.g. athletes, older adults) may benefit from modestly increasing their dietary protein intake.

Though a strong evidence base demonstrates the nutritional value of animal-derived dietary proteins to fulfil this societal need, there are concerns over the environmental cost of (increasing) animal-derived protein production, together with shifting trends away from high levels of meat and dairy consumption. This necessitates research that focusses on the nutritional value of alternative, sustainably produced protein sources.

Within this topic we are running a series of experiments to evaluate whether viable alternative protein sources are capable of supporting human metabolism within the contexts of sports nutrition, metabolic health, weight loss and healthy ageing.

How do we provide protein to support healthy ageing? 

‘How do we age well?’ is a question at the forefront of modern society. With increasing life expectancy, the knock-on effect is a rapidly ageing population, and a consequent growing stress on healthcare systems. We now face a pressing issue of understanding not only how to live longer, but how we should age ‘better’ to ease the stress on healthcare systems.

With respect to ‘ageing better’, a key consideration is increased falls and incidence of disease occurs as we grow older, largely due to a decrease in the quantity and quality of muscle tissue we have (a slow process called sarcopenia).

Importantly, we know that how well our muscles age is dependent on our lifestyle. For example, those older individuals who exercise more and eat slightly higher protein diets, retain more of their muscle tissue and function and, consequently, tend to lead healthier lives. As a result, there are now accumulating calls for the government-recommended daily allowances of protein for older adults to be increased. This introduces a critical question we and future generations are faced with: ‘where should this dietary protein to support healthy ageing come from?

Current projects

BPM: Ingestion of mycoprotein, pea protein and their blend support comparable post-exercise myofibrillar protein synthesis rates in resistance trained individuals.

BABE: High moisture extrusion of a dietary protein blend impairs in vitro digestion and in vivo amino acid availability in healthy young volunteers.

LOVE: A high-protein vegan diet improves blood-borne indices of cardiometabolic health but does not alter micronutrient status compared with an isonitrogenous omnivorous diet during resistance training.

FFT1: Assessing the muscle protein synthetic response following the ingestion of a variety of protein rich whole foods compared to an isolated protein source.

FFT2: Contribution of whole-food- and supplemental- derived dietary protein, from animal- and non- animal origins, to daily protein intakes of trained and recreationally active young adults: a cross-sectional analysis.  

FFT3: Targeted metabolomic analyses of a variety of protein-rich whole-food sources

LAMB: Mycoprotein as a novel low calorie, high protein, high fibre dietary strategy to support weight management and metabolic health in obesity. Lose, Adapt, Maintain, Believe.

NOVA: The bioavailability of multiple novel, sustainable, non-animal derived protein sources in healthy young and older adults.

SCAM: The muscle protein synthetic response following the ingestion of a single bolus of algal protein when compared to fungal protein in healthy, young adults.

MVP: A high-quality vegan or omnivorous diet to support skeletal muscle remodelling in healthy older adults.

MAPS: Microalgae as an alternative protein source in human nutrition.

VAMPIRE: The effects of vegan vs. animal protein on recovery of muscle function, neuromuscular junction function, skeletal muscle activation, and myofibrillar protein synthesis after damaging exercise

APPLES: The effects of a single bout of resistance exercise and post-exercise whey protein consumption on gene expression at the neuromuscular junction and skeletal muscle.

VIPER: The effects of vitamin D supplementation on protein synthesis. 

SHAKE: Do you shake it or not take it?: Habits, motives and knowledge of protein supplementation in the UK. 

TRIGGER: Association of postprandial post-exercise muscle protein synthesis rates with dietary leucine: a systematic review 

SPADE: Characterising differences in muscle function and myofibrillar protein synthesis rates following eccentric exercise in males and females  

EMPIRE1: The effect of menstrual cycle phase on muscle protein synthesis.

EMPIRE 2: The effect of a protein-polyphenol drink in comparison to whey protein on muscle protein synthesis in young females.

SIS: The influence of a blend of alternative protein sources on muscle and collagen protein synthetic responses in healthy young adults.