Last week we began our talk about protein intake and it’s implications for strength trained athletes. We outlined that most athletes are already consuming enough daily protein and increasing your daily protein would likely not be beneficial.
This week, we’ll take a look at 3 key points that could have a large impact on gains in size and strength.
Key Point #1: Protein Type
Most athletes regularly supplement with protein after strength training. There are many protein options available on the market but time and again, studies prove that whey beats the rest. For instance, lean mass and strength showed greater improvements when resistance training was supplemented with whey versus an isocaloric (same calorie count) carbohydrate drink.
Generally, protein effectiveness looks like this:
Remember, whey and casein are both found in milk so if you need a quick fix (or an inexpensive alternative) after a training session, milk may be your best bet.
Add Some Carbs
Immediately after a workout, insulin sensitivity increases. This basically means that insulin becomes more responsive to carbohydrates (i.e. sugar). Adding a small amount of carbohydrates to your protein drink will increase protein uptake to your muscles. Translation, the muscle building process speeds up.
Key Point #2: Timing of Protein Intake
Researchers have noticed that weight training opens a MPS (muscle protein synthesis) ‘window of opportunity’ that is synergistic in nature. For example, in one study, whole body protein uptake was 12% higher when it was taken immediately, versus 3h post workout.
Another study examined the effect of whey protein ingestion immediately after exercising the muscles of the leg versus waiting 3h before ingestion. There was a 300% difference in protein uptake to the leg muscles when whey was taken immediately. Again, this is where insulin plays a major role!
It’s obvious that benefits of taking whey within 15-30 minutes of completing a workout are substantial. Research indicates however, that 10g-40g, about 1-2 scoops of protein powder, is enough to stimulate an increase in MPS. Most athletes take considerably more protein post-workout and anecdotal evidence indicate that some even take close to DOUBLE the recommended amount.
Key Point # 3: Daily Energy Intake
Protein intake, type and timing are all relevant factors to consider when an increase in muscle size (and ultimately strength) is desired. Most research, however, indicates that total daily caloric intake MUST also increase while undergoing a strength training protocol.
This increase in energy intake is especially important for athletes who are training 2-3 times a day and could very well be adding 2-3 pounds of muscle mass/week. Sure, if total caloric intake increases, the amount of protein an individual consumes will also increase; but the results have more to do with a TOTAL increase in macronutrients (fat, carbs and protein) than protein alone.
An average college male consumes between 2500-3000 kcal/day. Therefore, its not uncommon for an athlete to consume 4500 kcal/day or more. It is important to note that when an athlete is continuously adding mass, he MUST continuously increase energy intake.
In the coming weeks, we’ll have some great guests tackling important topics and providing valuable insight into the World of sport science. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, Happy Holidays from the Team at PUSH!
1) Lowery et al 2012. Dietary protein and strength athletes. Strength and Conditioning Journal.
2) Tipton and Wolfe 2004. Protein and amino acids for athletes. Journal of Sports Sciences.
3) Hulmi et al 2010. Effect of protein/essential amino acids and resistance training on skeletal muscle hypertrophy: A case for whey protein. Nutrition & Metabolism.