Protein and Muscle Growth
Increasing your daily protein intake while on a resistance training program helps to increase lean muscle mass. The human body is in a constant state of “protein turnover.” Muscle tissue is continuously being repaired and replaced. To maximize this repair, you must maintain a protein positive nitrogen balance.
When you undereat protein, you confuse your body. It only has so many raw materials to work with, and can’t repair everything it needs to repair. In this scenario, muscle can be lost. In addition, other vital bodily functions are compromised, such as hormone regulation and blood PH balance.
When you are involved with an intense weight training regimen, more muscle tissue then normal is in need of repair. This is the reason why weightlifters and bodybuilders need more protein. Muscle growth is more taxing on the body’s nitrogen balance then muscle maintenance.
Frequent protein feedings insure a steady stream of amino acids, and help maintain a proper nitrogen balance.
Protein and Recovery
Protein plays a vital role in muscle recovery and workout “rebound.” When you workout, two things happen:
- Your muscles are depleted of glycogen.
- Your muscles are damaged, and are in need of repair.
A steady stream of protein insures a proper nitrogen balance. And a positive nitrogen balance allows your body to be in “muscle repair mode”. The faster your muscles repair, the faster you recover.
Protein Food Sources
Typical protein food sources include: eggs, cheese, milk, chicken, seafood, fish, poultry, beef, pork, lamb, veal, soy, nuts and legumes. Small amounts of protein can also be found in fatty and starchy foods. Because protein levels in these foods are minimal, they are generally “ignored” by bodybuilders and athletes when a protein diet is structured.
Protein food sources are divided into two categories: complete and incomplete protein foods. A complete protein food contains all essential amino acids. Animal proteins (meat) are complete protein sources. Incomplete protein foods, such as vegetables, lack several essential amino acids.
How Much Protein do I Need?
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults in the USA is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This translates to approximately 0.36 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. For a 200 pound individual, the minimum RDA requirement is 72 grams of protein per day. For a 150 pound individual, the minimum RDA requirement is 54 grams of protein per day.
Those involved with intense exercise, or individuals looking to add muscle mass, should consume at least twice the RDA’s recommended minimums. It is generally advised that bodybuilders eat 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Another good guideline is to make sure that 20 to 40% of your daily calories come from protein sources.1 to 1.5 Grams of Protein per Pound of Bodyweight.
Bodyweight – Grams of Protein Required
- 125 pounds – 125 to 188 grams of protein
- 150 pounds – 150 to 225 grams of protein
- 175 pounds – 175 to 263 grams of protein
- 200 pounds – 200 to 300 grams of protein
- 225 pounds – 225 to 338 grams of protein
- 250 pounds – 250 to 375 grams of protein
Calories – Grams of Protein Required
- 1500 calories – 75 to 150 grams of protein
- 2000 calories – 100 to 200 grams of protein
- 2500 calories – 125 to 250 grams of protein
- 3000 calories – 150 to 300 grams of protein
- 3500 calories – 175 to 350 grams of protein
- 4000 calories – 200 to 400 grams of protein
- 5000 calories – 250 to 500 grams of protein
When to Take Your Protein Powder
Protein timing is the science of when and how to take protein powder supplements for the best results. It isn’t as simple as just choosing a great tasting protein flavor, mixing and enjoying. Other factors come into play.
First Thing In The Morning. After waking, your body is in a fasting condition. You haven’t eaten protein for quite some time, and your body needs a fast digesting protein source to insure that you remain in a positive nitrogen balance. At this time it’s a good idea to use both a fast and slow digesting protein powder. This could be a whey protein drink with a solid protein source such as eggs and cheese, or a whey/casein protein powder mix. A fast digesting protein will quickly place the body into a positive nitrogen balance, and get the day off to a good, muscle building start. A slow digesting protein source, like casein protein, will continue to feed amino acids into the blood stream, and hold you off until your next protein meal.
Pre Workout. Your pre-workout meal should consist of a slow digesting protein powder that will keep the body in a positive nitrogen balance as you workout.
Post Workout. You should take the same approach post-workout as you did first thing in the morning. Consume a mixture of fast and slow digesting protein sources to help you recover from the workout, and propel you in a positive nitrogen balance to your next meal.
Between Meals. Regular protein supplement meals and snacks eaten throughout the day should be from slow digesting proteins, such as casein or egg protein. Slow digesting protein in between major meals assures that you will maintain a positive nitrogen balance throughout the day.
Night Time. Having a slow digesting protein supplement before bed maximizes your nitrogen balance while sleeping. Casein protein is a good choice before hitting the sack.
By Swetha Jairam
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