Protein & Amino Acids – Maximising Muscle Building & Repair

Numerous studies over the years have confirmed that getting adequate protein intake per day is critical to maintaining a healthy body and is especially important if you are training. But how much should you have? When is the best time to take it? And should you just take protein? Find out the answers to these questions and more in this post.

How Much Protein

A research paper by Stuart M Phillips at the McMaster University suggests that “ingesting a ‘mere’ 20 g of high-quality protein (0.25 g protein/kg body mass/meal) will maximally stimulate MPS, the process that underpins changes in muscle mass.” MPS is Muscle Protein Synthesis, which in short means to create new proteins for muscle growth and repair.

Essential Amino Acids

Amino acids are critical, too. Some studies show that all of the Essential Amino Acids (EEAs) in good proportions are required at the same time as protein to stimulate optimal muscle growth. However, one particular amino acid called Leucine seems to be very important. It has led some scientists to hypothesize that there is something called a “leucine Trigger point”. They believe that leucine needs to be present in a large, but currently unknown, amount to trigger maximal muscle growth. This is why certain proteins like whey protein are ideally suited because they contain a good serving of leucine and are rapidly absorbed by the body.

“Approximately 8.5g of essential amino acids and 20g of protein was found to be optimal for post-workout nutrition to maximise muscle growth”

Pre-Workout vs Post-Workout

One study shows that pre-workout protein and essential amino acid supplementation did help to improve amino acid balance in the muscle and therefore aid muscle growth, but this was not re-producible in two subsequent studies. So, at present, it is unclear whether pre workout protein and amino acid supplementation is effective.

Numerous studies show that post-workout protein and amino acid supplementation is the best way to achieve maximal recovery and muscle repair. The muscles are sensitive to protein for up to 24 hours, and possibly longer, so a sustained level of both protein and essential amino acids are required to maximise your recovery, and not just immediately post-workout. However, the muscles are most receptive to the protein immediately post-workout so it is important to deliver a high quality, fast absorbing protein powder with a generous load of essential amino acids straight after you finish exercising.

Takeaways

  • Only 20g of protein needed post-workout – taking more may inhibit your body’s ability to absorb other important nutrients such as carbohydrates which are also critical for muscle repair and recovery
  • Liquid forms of protein are best due to the rate at which they can be absorbed when compared to solid forms of protein, another reason why protein powders are used
  • Protein should be taken at regular intervals throughout the day in doses of 20-25g or between 0.2 and 0.3 grams of protein per kg of body mass per meal
  • Finding a rapidly digesting protein powder which contains high proportions of the essential amino acids, particularly leucine, is the most effective way to increase muscle building potential
  • Milk protein is a good source of protein and essential amino acids so is good to have post-workout, but it does contain larger amounts of lactose and fats when compared to most protein powders
  • A sustained protein and essential amino acid intake is required each day and preferably per meal for anyone looking to train hard, recover well and build muscle optimally

Which Protein Powder

There are many protein powders available on the market today so choosing which one can be time consuming and very confusing. We’ve tried to make the process much easier by creating a protein comparison table so you can compare costs and nutritional information very easily.