Proteins play a vital role in muscle contraction and coordination. They are present in muscle tissues in the form of many microfilaments and provide muscle structure.
“Protein is King.”Dr. Spencer Nadolsky
The body uses protein to build and repair tissues. It also uses protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is the essential building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
For an athlete, exercise breaks down proteins in the muscle, and their muscle growth will depend on the quality of proteins already in the body. For example. protein consumed from natural sources (chicken, dairy, eggs) is higher quality than the protein you’d find in shakes, protein bars, and smoothies.
Eating The Right Amount Of Protein
Protein shouldn’t be your go-to source for energy because it can compromise the restoration of muscles. Many people assume that eating large amounts of protein magically makes muscle appear on your body, but only physical activity + protein = muscle mass
Most official organizations recommend a fairly modest protein intake. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight, or 0.8 grams per kilogram.
This amounts to around 56 grams per day for the average male and 46 grams per day for the average female. However, with strength training, your consumption of both protein and water should increase drastically.
The right amount of protein for any one individual depends on many factors, including age, activity level, muscle mass, physique goals, and current health.
How Does Protein Synthesis Work?
The cells of all living things produce proteins in a process called protein synthesis (MPS). This is a naturally occurring process in which protein is produced to repair muscle damage caused by intense exercise and injury.
The other process that results in a loss of protein is called protein breakdown (MPB).
To gain muscle, you will have to make sure that your protein intake (MPS) outweighs your protein outtake (MPB). The ratio of MPS to MPB will be the deciding factor whether muscle tissues are built or lost. If MPB outpaces MPS, you will not only lose weight but muscle too.
You can enhance your MPS by increasing your protein intake immediately after your exercise is finished with an optimal time-frame within an hour of completed training. This time-frame is known as the “anabolic window” and said to be the perfect time for getting the most out of nutrients like protein. However, if you aren’t able to eat within the anabolic window, anywhere between 2-4 hours may suffice.
The University of Birmingham looked into MPS response rates in men prescribed 10, 20, or 40 grams of whey protein immediately following their training. The results were as follows:
A 10-gram dose of whey had no effect on MPS.
A 20-gram dose increased MPS by 49%.
A 40-gram dose increased MPS by 56% (but also caused excessive urea – a colorless crystalline compound which is the main nitrogenous breakdown product of protein metabolism in mammals and is excreted in urine.)
Without protein, life as you know it simply wouldn’t be possible.
Protein is incredibly important when it comes to gaining and losing weight. The tissues in your body, including muscles, are dynamic and constantly being broken down and rebuilt. In order to gain muscle, drop weight, and hit your goals, your body needs to synthesize more muscle protein than it breaks down.
Numerous studies have tried to determine the optimal amount of protein for muscle gain but many reach different conclusions.
The key is to find your sweet spot with testing.