More than in any other area of sports nutrition, the topic of protein intake for building muscle has been a point of much confusion and debate among bodybuilders and nutritional experts. If you're interested in improving your physique you'd better hold onto your hat because the latest research on protein requirements has blown the old school recommendations right out of the water.
Recent research results I studied just few months ago made me very happy. They reveal that previous recommendations for protein intakes to optimize muscle growth and athletic performance have been way off the mark, a long way off. Building muscle has been a passion of mine last 17 years and I knew this from various living - gym examples so to say. Finally science confirmed this. As much I can see most of us are being cheated, confused and misguided from enormous amount of research on protein metabolism propagated by so many supplement industry "experts". What caught my attention are pertinent facts that have been completely ignored by most professionals which clearly show reasons why many people fail to gain muscle.
The fact we all know is that amount and type of protein we consume every day governs the speed of recovery (and results) from intense exercise training. Despite this well-known fact there are so many bodybuilders and other athletes who don't go even near the results they should simply because their protein intake is poor. Yes, weak, poor, not enough! I'm confidant that majority of people sweating hard to gain muscle mass fail, give up or star using steroids because they have false concepts about the daily protein and metabolic amount they need in order to gain muscle mass.
Protein and muscle growth.
I could go in describing the details and reasons of this but let us be practical here. Recommended (RDA) 0.8 grams/kg/day of protein is simply not enough if you want your muscles respond to your workouts. A high concentration of amino acids in the blood is essential for stimulating muscle protein synthesis rates. To gain muscle mass you better start looking for the high protein intake since this amount is needed to maintain a high concentration of amino acids in the blood and this is what stimulates the muscle protein production. You simply can not have this anabolic effect with lower (normal) protein amount intakes.
Blood amino acid levels decline dramatically after a workout, even in athletes that consume a relatively high protein intake of 1.26 grams/kg/day of body weight per day. When blood amino acid levels drop, muscle building rates diminish. A high protein intake is essential for maximizing the anabolic effect of resistance training.
Danger of high protein intake?
This also we could analyze for hours but here is the shortest answer: If you are healthy, high protein intakes can not harm you! Several studies cases demonstrate that even up to three times the RDA of protein cause no harm to healthy people. On contrary there are strong indications that protein intakes above the RDA appear to enhance health. Therefore, to ensure results from intense training, it is a far smarter strategy to consume more protein than to senselessly restrict protein intake.
How much do we really need?
Here is a quick result summary of the study I mentioned earlier. Group of 43 weight lifters agreed to quite rigid regime in order to show the real results. They consumed high protein diet (at least 1.5 grams/kg/day) and combined this with a prescribed dose of same 1.5 grams/kg/day of high quality whey isolate powder. Here is what this research has shown us:
In the first study, the bodybuilders that followed this strategy during training gained an average of 5kgs of pure muscle and lost over a kilogram of pure body fat, without dieting.
In the second study, four groups of equally matched bodybuilders consumed a high protein intake (at least double amount the RDA) but no additional protein supplementation. However, the group that was given whey isolate protein experienced double the lean mass gains and 300% better gains in strength than the group given a carbohydrate supplement.
The take-home conclusion is this; scientists now acknowledge that protein recommendations for building muscle have been grossly underestimated. This is one more confirmation for high expertise level of people behind the gain muscle mass meal programs. Even if scientists may never be able to determine exactly how much protein a person needs to build muscle, rest assured, the amount of protein you really need is much more than you're consuming at present.
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