There’s always been a lot of confusion about which protein to use, how much and when. The December edition of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition published a review of studies to determine the validity of previous research. The conclusions outlined here should be of interest to anyone with a goal of developing muscle hypertrophy (size) and strength.
The research suggests weight lifters interested in building muscle size should try to consume 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kg of body weight per day. Since 1 kg equals 2.2 pounds, 1 gram per pound of body weight is about right for the upper end of this recommendation. You should also try to consume 44 to 50 calories per kg of body weight per day, which works out to 20 to 23 calories per pound.
Whether you choose to drink a protein shake pre- or post-workout, the study suggests you can expect increased physical performance, recovery, muscle mass and strength. When choosing a protein, make sure each serving includes 3 to 4 grams of the BCCA leucine to promote protein synthesis. A quality whey shake should meet that need, and combining it with a fast-digesting carb like glucose or maltodextrin helps modulate protein synthesis. Essential amino acids and dextrose work best when consumed pre-workout.
True Strength Moment: Now that you have a better idea of what nutrition support to use and when, the research concludes with a recommendation for experienced lifters looking to enhance muscle size and strength: Plan a weight training routine lasting at least 10 to 12 weeks around compound movements for both upper and lower body.
A lot of bodybuilders have tried prohormones, hoping to find a legal and effective way of increasing their testosterone levels. However, new research has surfaced indicating that prohormones may not be the best choice for athletes looking to enhance their anabolic hormone levels and muscle strength, since there are many side-effects associated with prohormone supplementation. In fact, there is an amazingly effective new sports performance product called ZMA(a precise combination of zinc and magnesium) that has been clinically proven to significantly increase both anabolic hormone levels and muscle strength in trained athletes. Zinc, magnesium and vitamin B-6 are all involved in metabolic processes of the body, and play a vital role in protein synthesis. During exercise these nutrients are lost, either through perspiration or metabolism. The function of ZMA supplementation then, is to replace these nutrients which, in turn, may facilitate a number of processes that may improve athletic performance. ZMA is a very effective sleep aid and is recommended to be taken 30-60 minutes before bedtime. Many athletes fail to realize how important it is to get a deep and restful sleep. Healing, tissue repair, anabolic hormone production and muscle growth are maximized during sleep, so quality sleep is extremely important to athletes.
Free radicals are released when your body is under stress, including those times when you’re trying to reach a new personal best under a stack of plates. Left unchecked, these free radicals can cause oxidative stress which can end up damaging cell DNA. A study published in theInternational Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism describes one way your body fights back.
Researchers recruited 20 untrained males and assigned them to an 8-week program that started off with 8 exercises at 50% of one rep max (1RM). The sessions were spread out to allow at least 48 hours of recovery, and by the 8th week subjects were working with 80% of 1RM. Measurements of blood samples showed that superoxide dismutase activity increased between the first and final weeks. These enzymes provide an antioxidant defense to cells.
True Strength Moment: While increasing muscle size and strength, your body also ramps up antioxidant defenses to protect against oxidative stress. This study used gym newbies and didn’t look into the potential long-term effects of weight training. A high-potency multivitamin that includes ample amounts of vitamin C and other antioxidants might offer micronutrient insurance against gaps in your healthy diet.
Betaine was included in Platinum Hydrobuilder, ON’s all-in-one muscle recovery formula, because regular use can promote exercise performance. A recent study published in the Journal of Physiology illustrated this point using lab rats supplemented with and without beetroot juice, which is a rich source of dietary nitrate, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C and betaine.
For 5 days, some rodents drank water with beetroot juice added while others drank plain tap water. A 20 minute treadmill run at a 5% incline showed supplemented rats had improved blood flow to fast twitch Type II muscles. Boosting blood and oxygen delivery to muscles improved exercise performance.
True Strength Moment: Improving blood flow to Type II muscle fibers can benefit both aerobic and anaerobic forms of exercise since IIb intermediate fast twitch fibers can use either metabolism to power your training.
Casein protein: An extremely slow digesting protein have demonstrated steady release of amino acids for an incredible 7 hours. While whey protein may increase protein synthesis to a very high degree, micellar casein is much more important in preventing muscle breakdown especially when taken before bed.
Glutamine: 61% of your skeletal muscle is glutamine! Glutamine is majorly depleted during intense training sessions decreasing body’s immunity. Supplemental glutamine prevents your muscle from being eaten up (catabolized) to provide glutamine to other cells of the body.
Anti-oxidants (Vitamins and Minerals): The post workout stress is highly catabolic. The free radicals released during the workout are highly unstable ions eating away the muscle tissue. Stabilizing them is the top priority to kick-start the anabolic process. Anti-oxidant nutrients like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, Phytochemicals etc stabilize the free radicals and keep check on their catabolic effects, especially post-workout.
BCAAs: Branched chain aminos are excellent anti-catabolics. No matter what, in the process of energy production during workouts, these are definitely used. Providing specifically BCAAs ensures the body doesn’t take them from the existing muscle tissue, hence preventing muscle loss.
Setting up a circuit of resistance training exercises can provide you with a great workout while getting you out of the gym much faster than working a more traditional series of sets and reps. So can interval training, where you alternate between high and low intensity. Which works best? A study published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine tested several variations of this theme on eleven recreationally active women.
After determining individual strength and exercise capacity, subjects undertook three different training sessions on non-consecutive days. They engaged in circuit training with weights, aerobic circuit weight training and combined circuit interval training.
The program combining circuit and interval training produced the highest heart rates and levels of perceived exertion while also elevating blood lactate to the greatest degree. The next most challenging program was aerobic circuit weight training. Put these results to the test and take the ‘routine’ out of your current program.
Whey protein is popular with all types of athletes because, in addition to being a complete protein source containing all of the Essential Amino Acids, it digests rapidly so those aminos can go right to work supporting muscle recovery. How fast? A study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism compared the amino acid response of liquid protein sources to solid food.
Using two groups of trained and untrained volunteers, researchers determined that drinking a liquid form of protein like a whey shake helps you achieve peak blood levels of amino acids twice as fast as proteins from solid foods. Peak concentrations were reached in 50 minutes with liquids compared to 100 minutes when food needed to be digested.
True Strength Moment: Although total amino acid levels were similar across all protein sources, skim milk elevated concentrations of the BCAA leucine fastest, reaching a peak in just 25 minutes compared to all other foods. For more on the importance of this branched chain amino acid and the conditionally essential amino acid glutamine, read today’s Performance Blog post atABBperformance.com
The mammalian target of rapamycin, more commonly known as mTOR, plays an important role in regulating cell growth and protein synthesis. mTOR Complex 1 (mTORC1) is the part of this function responsible for integrating nutrient, growth factor and energy input. The BCAA leucine has a reputation for stimulating protein synthesis, and it’s a key modulator of mTORC1. A recent study published in the journal Amino Acids suggests that glutamine can activate mTORC1 independent of leucine.
As the most abundant amino acid in muscle, many strength athletes supplement with glutamine to aid the recovery process. It’s a conditionally essential amino acid, so when levels are depleted through intense physical effort your body may not be able to completely replace these aminos quickly enough. If you’re elevating the intensity of your workout for a bulking phase or competition preparation, adding 5 grams of L-glutamine to your post-workout shake might help take your recovery to the next level.