Pump it Up! Why Protein Helps Build Your Best Body

Why Protein Helps Build Your Best Body

Leafy greens are wonderful, it’s true, but when I’m going to hit the gym, protein is my main concern. Hear me out. Whether it’s protein from chicken, beans or nuts, you’ll be making sure they’re on your plate (or in your smoothie with a protein supplement).

Why? Protein is an important part of your diet. It contains amino acids which are essential for your body to make its own proteins. Proteins manufactured inside your body can have thousands of different functions including muscle cell creation, formation of enzymes, blood proteins and components of your connective tissues.

Proteins are supplemented into our diets by animal or plant sources. Consuming meat, fish, poultry and dairy products (like Greek yogurt) are also excellent ways to improve the protein content of your diet. Soy beans contain all of the essential amino acids which make them a great option, too.

Active types can benefit from additional protein in their diets. In some cases, this can be a safe and effective strategy. The additional protein can increase the formation of new muscle proteins following strenuous exercise, as well as spike the levels of amino acids in your bloodstream after a workout. The overall purpose of additional protein is to boost your body’s ability to repair itself. All you need to do now is decide on the type of protein you consume and when you choose to have it.

Select the Right Protein for Your Body

By selecting a high-quality protein source and consuming it within 30 to 60 minutes after your workout, the added protein can help you increase what is known as your “anabolic drive.” In the anabolic state, your level of physical performance can be enhanced and maintained by your training and diet strategies.

In fact, new evidence indicates that the type of protein source you use after a workout may make an important difference in your ability to stimulate your anabolic drive.

Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch selected 16 young, healthy subjects and randomly placed them into two groups. One group ingested a protein supplement containing a mixture of soy, milk and whey proteins, while the other group received whey protein isolate alone. The subjects trained with weights and the protein supplements were consumed 60 minutes after the exercise was completed. Muscle biopsies were received at the beginning of the study and again five hours later.

Protein Supplements: Not All Are Created Equal

The results of this small study indicated that the subjects who consumed the mixed protein blend experienced a delivery of free amino acids to their leg muscles for an additional 60 minutes compared to the subjects who had taken the whey protein supplement.

Those who used the protein blend also appeared to experience a better net increase in the amino acids found within the muscles following exercise. This suggests the protein blend may also reduce the amount of muscle protein breakdown following exercise compared with the subjects who consumed whey protein alone.

This data showed two important things: The timeframe you consume your favorite protein drink is equally as important as the type of protein you choose.

If you are concerned about maintaining muscle strength and condition (who isn’t, when it comes down to it), take note and live strong!

“Study reaffirms soy-dairy protein blend increases muscle mass,” e! Science News web site, April 26, 2014; http://esciencenews.com/articles/2014/04/26/study.reaffirms.soy.dairy.protein.blend.increases.muscle.mass.