Gut Microbial Stability is Associated with Greater Endurance Performance in Athletes Undertaking Dietary Periodization

Matthew Furber, Gregory R. Young, Giles S. Holt, Simone Pyle, Glen Davison, Michael Roberts, Justin Roberts, Glyn Howatson, Darren L. Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Dietary manipulation with high-protein or high-carbohydrate content are frequently employed during elite athletic training, aiming to enhance athletic performance. Such interventions are likely to impact upon gut microbial content. This study explored the impact of acute high-protein or high-carbohydrate diets on measured endurance performance and associated gut microbial community changes. In a cohort of well-matched, highly trained endurance runners, we measured performance outcomes, as well as gut bacterial, viral (FVP), and bacteriophage (IV) communities in a double-blind, repeated-measures design randomized control trial (RCT) to explore the impact of dietary intervention with either high-protein or high-carbohydrate content. High-dietary carbohydrate improved time-trial performance by +6.5% (P < 0.03) and was associated with expansion of Ruminococcus and Collinsella bacterial spp. Conversely, high dietary protein led to a reduction in performance by −23.3% (P = 0.001). This impact was accompanied by significantly reduced diversity (IV: P = 0.04) and altered composition (IV and FVP: P = 0.02) of the gut phageome as well as enrichment of both free and inducible Sk1virus and Leuconostoc bacterial populations. Greatest performance during dietary modification was observed in participants with less substantial shifts in community composition. Gut microbial stability during acute dietary periodization was associated with greater athletic performance in this highly trained, well-matched cohort. Athletes, and those supporting them, should be mindful of the potential consequences of dietary manipulation on gut flora and implications for performance, and periodize appropriately.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalmSystems
Early online date17 May 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 May 2022

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