Pedal power: Food-derived oligopeptides shown to benefit lipid metabolism in young male cyclists

By Shali S

- Last updated on GMT

A group of young men cycling on the street. © Getty Images
A group of young men cycling on the street. © Getty Images

Related tags lipids Triglycerides sports

Consumption of food-derived oligopeptides has been linked with an increased rate of triglyceride breakdown, enhanced the uptake of non-esterified fatty acids, and the promotion of fat oxidation, both during periods of inactivity and exercise among cyclists.

Physical activity plays a crucial role in improving lipid metabolism by boosting lipolysis (the breakdown of fats) and fat oxidation. Researchers have observed that athletes exhibit a higher rate of fat oxidation during high-intensity exercise compared to untrained individuals. 

During endurance exercises, the oxidation of endogenous triacylglycerol, a significant source of fuel, progressively increases. This enhanced fat utilization ratio, as seen in competitive long-distance runners, can help conserve glycogen for later stages of exercise, thereby improving overall performance. Adopting healthy dietary patterns and incorporating nutritional supplements can also prove beneficial in enhancing fat intake and optimizing lipid metabolism. 

In this study,​ Chinese researchers investigated the impact of consuming beverages containing a blend of three food-derived oligopeptides known for their positive effects in mitigating exercise-induced fatigue and skeletal muscle damage, as well as enhancing immunity and metabolism, on the processes of lipid degradation and fat oxidation across a range of physiological conditions.

These conditions encompassed periods of rest while seated, extended bouts of exercise, a timed trial following a brief interlude of rest, and recovery extending to the following morning, all involving young cyclists as participants.

In this single-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial, each participant consumed two types of beverages. One beverage contained a blend of three food-derived oligopeptides (referred to as the treatment group), while the other did not contain these peptides (referred to as the control group). These beverages consisted of 6% carbohydrates (CHO) and electrolytes, and they were provided either with or without food-derived oligopeptides (at a concentration of 2.7%).

The allocation of these beverages was done in a counterbalanced single-blind manner. There was also a 2-week washout period between the experiments.

The study observed that the continuous intake of food-derived oligopeptides led to an acceleration in the breakdown of total body triglycerides, uptake of non-esterified fatty acids, and fat oxidation, both during periods of rest and exercise.

This heightened circulation and intracellular flux of free amino acids (FAAs) may influence the choice of substrates for metabolic pathways. It could also be linked to the release of neuroendocrinological factors that slow down carbohydrate metabolism through acetyl coenzyme A feedback inhibition. 

Consequently, the study also noted that the continuous intake of food-derived oligopeptides may increase the availability of fatty acids for energy production, with FAAs serving as additional substrates for the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. 

These findings offer fresh insights into strategies aimed at promoting lipid metabolism, particularly in populations with metabolic disorders related to dyslipidemia, such as obesity, and enhancing physiological performance during endurance training. 

However, it's worth noting that a limitation of the study was the absence of a non-exercising control group and the need for further investigation to verify the long-term effects of supplementation. 

Future research should also explore the impact of using whole protein supplementation as a control and assess the combined effects of food-derived peptides or oligopeptides with probiotics and other healthy food components on lipid metabolism in individuals engaged in exercise.


Source: J Int Soc Sports Nutr.

doi: 10.1080/15502783.2023.2254741

“Supplementation with food-derived oligopeptides promotes lipid metabolism in young male cyclists: a randomized controlled crossover trial”

Authors: Aina Jin, et al

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