In the mainstream, Protein is perhaps the most under-rated, under-valued, and least-respected of the macronutrients. Looking at protein the way bodybuilders and physique athletes do, then, it should be no surprise, to realize that a full one-in-three of our society today is obese! If more of us could recognize the power of protein to help keep the body lean and strong, we’d have a much healthier, more functionally active society! Read on, true-believers! And then, spread the word and change the world!
The POWER is in the POWDER (protein powder, that is!!)
One of the most-common mistakes an athlete can make – or anyone who is seeking to improve their body composition, for that matter – is to underestimate the power of protein. Protein is the ONLY macronutrient that can provide the building blocks for lean tissue building and repair. Additionally, protein can help curb cravings, stabilize energy levels and blood sugar, and even fuel fat oxidation. Protein really does contain the “building blocks of life.”
UNLEASH YOUR MUSCLE-BUILDING MACHINERY!
Keeping the Anabolic Gears Grinding 24/7!
High-quality protein is the key to building and maintaining lean muscle, supporting a healthy body composition and fueling fat loss. Protein is the nutrient backbone for all muscle growth and recovery, and also supports the integrity and health of all body tissues. Active individuals require more high-quality protein for optimal performance and recovery.
Muscle Building Blocks:
Proteins are comprised of chains of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, linked together in specific sequences to form Amino Acids. Amino acids, known as the “building blocks” of life, and are responsible for a multitude of biological functions, including muscle and tissue growth and repair immune function, hormone and enzyme formation and many others.
There are 20 amino acids that comprise the human body. The body is capable of synthesizing all but 9 of these amino acids from the others. The 9 amino acids that cannot be synthesized from the rest must be obtained directly from the foods we eat. These 9 amino acids are known as essential amino acids (EAA’s) for that reason.
Of these 9 essential amino acids, 3 of these, the branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’s), are critical to stimulating and supporting protein synthesis, the production of building muscle tissue. This is why it is critical for all of us, especially athletes and active individuals, to ingest substantial amounts of protein, particularly complete proteins (proteins that contain all 20 amino acids).
Protein sources that contain all of the essential amino acids are called complete proteins. Most animal proteins contain all or nearly all the amino acids required by the human body for healthy function, lean tissue growth and repair, whereas most plant source proteins do not. Whey protein is a naturally complete protein. In other words, whey protein contains all of the amino acids the body needs to build and preserve lean tissue.
Here’s the BEEF (literally!)
Hardcore bodybuilders and strength athletes have known for at least the past 100 years that eating tons of protein, especially proteins from animal sources, helps build muscle faster than any other food source.
Why? What is it about beef and other animal source proteins that feed macho muscle growth more than anything else we can stuff into our gaping maws? The Neanderthal truth is this: like feeds like – we are animals, and the more we feed on “like” tissue, the more closely our chemistry matches up to what we jam into our systems, the easier it is for the body to get what it needs to build and repair.
When it comes to muscle building, plant based proteins may be inferior in specific amino acids in the ratios needed by humans for optimal muscle building and performance. However, provided protein intakes are adequate to meet the needs for total nitrogen and essential amino acids, plant and animal protein sources appear to provide similar support for athletic training and endurance. Hence, it is important to eat protein from a variety of sources, including both animal and some plant-based proteins, whenever possible.
Athletes, bodybuilders and active individuals know that high-quality protein is critical for muscle growth and repair. Without sufficient protein there can be no growth. In fact, without enough protein, in the absence of sufficient calories, the body will utilize muscle and body proteins as a source of stored energy, and actually break down lean tissue. So how much protein is enough?
There is much debate regarding exactly how much protein is sufficient for optimal health and function, but generally speaking, increased muscular activity increases the need for additional protein.
It’s generally accepted that hard-training athletes require at least 1-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. (this is the generally accepted MINIMUM – many body builders and strength athletes, as well as weight loss enthusiasts may, in fact, utilize much greater amounts of proteins) Unlike carbohydrates or fats, the body cannot store extra proteins, which means we must continue to ingest them on an ongoing basis, to keep our muscles healthy and growing. Supplementing with a high-quality protein powder is a good way to ensure sufficient intake of protein.
Multiple Protein Sources for Maximum Performance!
Since the body can only store a very small amount of “reserve” protein, and is only able to absorb and utilize a limited quantity of protein at any particular time, we must ingest protein almost continuously, to keep the muscle building machinery fueled. This could mean a lot of eating!
Eating small, frequent meals that are relatively high in protein is one answer. To ensure sufficient EAA intake, be sure to consume protein from a variety of sources, mostly from lean, animal source protein. Varying the sources of protein we eat will increase the likelihood that we are consuming sufficient quantities of all the necessary amino acids for healthy muscle growth and repair.
Shake It to Make It!
Supplementation with the right types of protein can ensure sufficient intake of all the necessary amino acids for optimal muscle health, growth and repair. By supplementing with specific protein supplements, we can almost guarantee that we are getting everything we need to nourish, protect and support the growth of our muscle tissue. Especially in the post-workout phase, this becomes critical to optimize your training efforts.
Common supplemental sources of protein include:
– Whey Protein Isolate – Highest available yield of protein, gram for gram, of any whey protein source, WPI is fast absorbing into the muscle tissues, and has immune boosting properties to protect the body system during periods of intense training.
– Hydrolyzed Whey Protein – Hydrolyzed whey is protein that’s been broken down into fast-absorbing peptides. The fastest absorbing of all forms of whey, hydrolyzed whey hits the bloodstream first, providing a rapid infusion of muscle building amino acids.
– Micellar Casein – very slow-digesting, micellar casein has the capability of slowly infusing amino acids over several hours, protecting muscle tissue from breakdown over time. There is no substitute for the anti-catabolic effects of micellar casein.
– Whey Protein Concentrate – closer to the whole food sources than other whey proteins, concentrate contains real food subfractions such as alpha-lactoglobulins and lactoferrins, with specific immune boosting and muscle building properties.
– Egg Albumin – High bio-availability and well tolerated by most individuals, egg albumin has a high BCAA content and arginine. Egg albumin is a powerful contributor to hormone production and the muscle building process.
By utilizing multiple sources of protein, such as from the supplemental sources shown above as well as the combination of a variety of protein-rich foods, you’ll ensure a complete spectrum of all the necessary amino acids, especially the muscle-building BCAAs.
To keep a steady stream of muscle-building, performance-boosting amino acids flowing into the bloodstream, and right to the muscles, consume small, frequent protein-rich meals, including protein foods from a variety of sources. Build your muscle-fueling nutritional regimen with a variety lean protein food sources in your muscle building regimen, and supplement as needed with high-quality protein powder supplements, and unchain your own anabolic machinery for maximum strength, performance and muscle growth!
M.A. Tarnopolsky, J.D. MacDougall and S.A. Atkinson, Influence of protein intake and training status on nitrogen balance and lean body mass. J Appl Physiol, Vol 64, Issue 1 187-193, 1988.
G. Caso, et al., Albumin synthesis is diminished in men consuming a predominantly vegetarian diet. Journal of Nutrition, 2000; 130: 528-533.
Susan Barr, Nutritional considerations for vegetarian athletes. Nutrition, July, 2004; Volume 20, Issue 7, 696-703.
J.E. Tang, et al., Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men. J Appl Physiol, Sept 1, 2009; 107(3): 987-992.
G. L. Paul, The rationale for consuming protein blends in sports nutrition. J. Am. Coll. Nutr. Aug 1, 2009; 28(4_supplement_1): 464S-472S.
J. J. Hulmi, et al., Resistance exercise with whey protein ingestion affects mTOR signaling pathway and myostatin in men. J Appl Physiol, May 1, 2009; 106(5): 1720-1729.