Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Strength Training: What Role Does Protein Timing Play in Muscle Growth?

Strength Training: What Role Does Protein Timing Play in Muscle Growth?

If you’re trying to increase your lean body mass, it’s important to get enough protein in your diet. The average person needs 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram (.37 grams per pound) of body weight on a daily basis. Some experts believe that athletes and people who weight train even need more, somewhere in the range of 1 to 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight. Without adequate amounts of protein, you won’t be able to build lean body tissue. Then there’s the issue of timing. Eating protein at certain times may be more conducive to building muscle. When is it best to consume protein relative to your workout?

Protein Timing: How Important Is It?

Fitness trainers often tell their clients to eat small high-protein meals and snacks throughout the day. This is not only to reduce hunger, but because the body can only use so much protein at one time. This means you don’t want to consume it all in one or two meals. Spacing your protein requirements out throughout the day helps your body utilize it better, and it also helps to suppress your appetite.

How Should You Time Protein Intake Relative to Your Workout?

Do you eat a high-protein snack before your strength-training workout? If not, there are some good reasons to start. One study showed that consuming 6 grams of essential amino acids just before a strength-training workout boosted the amount of amino acids that were delivered to muscles. Exercise increases blood flow, which facilitates delivery of amino acids to muscle tissue.

Eating protein before a workout may be even more important than consuming it afterwards. In one study, older male weight lifters built greater muscle mass in their lower extremities when they took a protein supplement before they exercised than they did when they took it afterwards.

When you consume protein before a workout, amino acids are quickly made available for growth and repair of muscle fibers. Getting protein before a workout also induces an anabolic state that promotes muscle growth. Research even shows that eating protein before exercising reduces muscle soreness afterwards.

A Little Carbs With Your Protein?

If building lean body mass is your goal, combine protein with a small amount of carbohydrates before you head to the weight room. Carbohydrates boost insulin levels, which helps muscle cells more easily take up amino acids from a protein meal. This means the amino acids will be more rapidly delivered to muscles to take part in protein synthesis.

When it comes to protein timing, the other window period for boosting muscle growth is immediately after a strength-training workout. When you eat your post-workout snack, make it high in protein, and eat it as soon as possible after your workout is over. One study showed that consuming 10 grams of protein immediately after strength training boosted muscle mass more than waiting 2 hours.

The Bottom Line?

Timing your protein intake could help you increase your lean body mass. There’s a window period just before and after your workout when your muscles are most responsive to protein. If you want to build muscle, don’t strength-train in a fasted state. Eat a high-protein snack with a source of carbs just before and after exercising. It’ll ensure your muscles have the amino acids they need to build a more defined body.

~Cathe Friedrich


Am. J. Physiol. Endocrinol. Metab. 2001. August 281(2)

Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 2006 Ju; 97(5).

Muscle Science. “Protein Timing for Best Results”

Exercise Physiology. Theory and Application to Fitness and Performance. Seventh edition. 2009.

No comments:

Post a Comment