Algae Ingestion Increases Resting and Exercised Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis Rates to a Similar Extent as Mycoprotein in Young Adults

Ino van der Heijden, Sam West, Alistair J. Monteyne, Tim J.A. Finnigan, Doaa R. Abdelrahman, Andrew J. Murton, Francis B. Stephens, Benjamin T. Wall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Spirulina [SPIR] (cyanobacterium) and chlorella [CHLO] (microalgae) are foods rich in protein and essential amino acids; however, their capacity to stimulate myofibrillar protein synthesis (MyoPS) in humans remains unknown. Objectives: We assessed the impact of ingesting SPIR and CHLO compared with an established high-quality nonanimal-derived dietary protein source (fungal-derived mycoprotein [MYCO]) on plasma amino acid concentrations, as well as resting and postexercise MyoPS rates in young adults. Methods: Thirty-six healthy young adults (age: 22 ± 3 y; BMI: 23 ± 3 kg·m-2; male [m]/female [f], 18/18) participated in a randomized, double-blind, parallel-group trial. Participants received a primed, continuous infusion of L-[ring-2H5]-phenylalanine and completed a bout of unilateral-resistance leg exercise before ingesting a drink containing 25 g protein from MYCO (n = 12; m/f, 6/6), SPIR (n = 12; m/f, 6/6), or CHLO (n = 12; m/f, 6/6). Blood and bilateral muscle samples were collected at baseline and during a 4-h postprandial and postexercise period to assess the plasma amino acid concentrations and MyoPS rates in rested and exercised tissue. Results: Protein ingestion increased the plasma total and essential amino acid concentrations (time effects; all P < 0.001), but most rapidly and with higher peak responses following the ingestion of SPIR compared with MYCO and CHLO (P < 0.05), and MYCO compared with CHLO (P < 0.05). Protein ingestion increased MyoPS rates (time effect; P < 0.001) in both rested (MYCO, from 0.041 ± 0.032 to 0.060 ± 0.015%·h−1; SPIR, from 0.042 ± 0.030 to 0.066 ± 0.022%·h−1; and CHLO, from 0.037 ± 0.007 to 0.055 ± 0.019%·h−1, respectively) and exercised tissue (MYCO, from 0.046 ± 0.014 to 0.092 ± 0.024%·h−1; SPIR, from 0.038 ± 0.011 to 0.086 ± 0.028%·h−1; and CHLO, from 0.048 ± 0.019 to 0.090 ± 0.024%·h−1, respectively), with no differences between groups (interaction effect; P > 0.05), but with higher rates in exercised compared with rested muscle (time × exercise effect; P < 0.001). Conclusions: The ingestion of a single bolus of algae-derived SPIR and CHLO increases resting and postexercise MyoPS rates to a comparable extent as MYCO, despite divergent postprandial plasma amino acid responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3406-3417
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • algae
  • amino acids
  • muscle protein synthesis
  • mycoprotein
  • resistance exercise
  • stable isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Algae Ingestion Increases Resting and Exercised Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis Rates to a Similar Extent as Mycoprotein in Young Adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this