Smashing shakes and scoffing steaks should have our muscles bulging. The theory of ingesting as much protein as possible has been followed closely by exercisers and body builders. The body isn’t quite that simple though. It turns out it can only take so much protein.
Muscle is harder to build and maintain as we age. Even during our twenties men will see a decline in overall skeletal muscle and women a decline in the quality of muscle mass. So, muscles need additional stimulation to grow. They also need a quality diet to support this.
Pumping weights and protein diets have been synonymous with ripped physiques. Ingesting protein all in one go has been shown to be a waste of time and money. Excess protein will be oxidised as an energy source and may contribute to gains in body fat. Very high protein diets displace other important nutrients from the diet and can be a source of saturated fat.
When you exercise small tears in muscle are assisted by protein to repair and build muscle. The body only needs 30 grams of protein in one go to achieve this. Thirty grams of quality protein looks like a palm sized piece of chicken, Greek yoghurt with a handful of nuts, one scoop of whey protein or four large eggs. Other options are 2 cups of lentils or kidney beans or two protein snack bars.
If you’re panicked about how to get pumped, then don’t be. The preferred fuel for working muscles is actually carbohydrate. Most healthy Australian diets provide enough protein for building muscles. Protein only needs to go up to 1.4 grams per kilogram of body weight per day or 15 percent to 20 percent of calories. Carbohydrate must then be included to complement this.
Eating a carbohydrate rich, moderate protein snack or meal immediately after training will help to optimise gains in muscle mass by increasing production of anabolic hormones, reducing protein breakdown and supplying amino acids for protein synthesis. This snack may be even more effective when consumed before a weight training session.
Consider the timing of meals and snacks to fuel recovery from training sessions and promote muscle growth. Eating more frequently rather than increasing the amount of food you consume at meals is very important. Protein and carbohydrate every three to four hours is ideal.
Including a small serve of protein with all meals and snacks will optimise amino acid levels in the blood and may facilitate muscle development. Compact meals such as milk shakes, smoothies, yoghurt, cheese and crackers or dried fruit and nuts are good options. Remember, that protein comes from a wide range of sources including bread, breakfast cereal, rice and dairy products and meat.
It’s time to let go of the fallacy that huge protein serves equals huge muscles. Ensuring you have adequate carbohydrate and protein in your diet and eating it at the right time will make a whey bigger difference to your results.