Protein is one of the most common macronutrients prescribed to physically active individuals, especially athletes. Protein powder has helped turn the supplement industry into a billion-dollar industry. This rapid expansion has allowed too many brands in the market place with too little regulation. In fact, the FDA doesn’t regulate the supplement industry at all. Have you ever seen “GMP” labeled on the side of a supplement bottle? GMP means “Good Manufacturing Practices.” This means that this supplement company has had a pharmaceutical lab produce / analyze their product. Not much for over-site. The lack of standards and regulation has helped numerous companies get away with stacking their bottles with placebos. With that being said, it is important that you understand that all proteins are not the same and that being selective on protein powders is vital.
This surplus of supplement companies has also led to unnecessary protein innovations and requirements. This is our topic of discussion. How much protein is really needed and is supplementing necessary?
Proteins are made up of amino acids (AA), which serve as the fundamental building blocks of muscle and stimulate protein synthesis. Having adequate levels of protein is necessary to grow and recover during training. Synthesized protein from AA must continually restore our degrading body. If we have too little AA within the body then our body is in a negative state, thus turning catabolic (cell destruction). Any fitness or athlete always wants to be in a positive state, thus turning anabolic (cell growth & recovery). In fact, sport specific adaptations are not possible without adequate levels of AA within the body.
Resistance Training and/or Weightlifting cannot achieve hypertrophy, which is the development of lean muscle and the gathering of myofibrillar proteins, without being combined with adequate protein. AA’s must integrate into the diet pre, intra, and post workouts, along with other times in the day. AA intake has been shown superior in generating whole body protein synthesis (growth not breakdown) than whole food protein alone. Therefore, it becomes imperative that we discover our equilibrium levels for protein and AA levels.
This equilibrium level of AA is in direct relation to your body weight, gender, and body fat percentage. Blood testing is the only way to truly uncover our optimal levels of protein. However, we can estimate our AA and protein equilibrium based on our body fat percentage. Finding our optimal level of protein will not allow nitrogen loss through urea and/or a reliance on protein oxidation during lengthy bouts of exercise. Both of these are side effects are negative and will drastically decrease results.
Strength athletes have higher resting levels of body protein synthesis and require more protein. In fact, any athlete / person who engage in resistance training or muscular taxing activities will have higher resting protein synthesis. Contrary to popular belief this does not necessarily mean more protein is required pre and post workout shakes. On the other hand, it does mean that increased and balanced protein / AA intake throughout the day is imperative.
Sold on protein and AA’s yet? I sure hope so. So, let’s get into how you should move forward with your protein and AA consumption… in part II.