Debbie J., MS, RD contributed this article –
Do you want to increase your muscle mass and strength? Here’s a quick breakdown of what can help support muscle protein synthesis:
- Timed meals consisting of adequate calories*
- A well-rounded resistance training program
- Effective recovery nutrition
It is fairly well known that you need to get high-quality protein into your muscles after resistance training to promote muscle growth. However, it may surprise you to know that some of that protein needs to be sustained to optimize muscle anabolism.
“Appropriately timed protein intake is an important component of an overall exercise training program, essential for proper recovery, immune function and the growth and maintenance of lean body mass.” – International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: Protein and Exercise 2007.
The effectiveness of eating protein to drive muscle protein synthesis depends on the availability of essential amino acids. While whey protein, isolated soy protein and casein protein are similar in quality (all similar to egg whites), they each have unique characteristics and differ in their amino acid availability due to their varying rates of digestion. Compared to a single rapid-absorbing protein, a blend of these different proteins in post-exercise recovery increases and prolongs muscle protein anabolism1,2. Whereas whey protein absorbs quickly but fails to provide amino acids after the first hour, a blend of casein, soy and whey protein continues to deliver amino acids to your muscles two to three hours after your workout for growth and repair.
When you combine soy, casein and whey protein you can take advantage of each source’s amino acid profile and duration of amino acid exposure for optimizing skeletal muscle growth. Ingestion of these proteins with their unique and complementary characteristics helps resistance-trained individuals achieve significant muscle growth. Consume a combination of whey, casein and soy protein after resistance training to extend the period of time in which muscle building occurs.
*What meal calories are made of makes a difference in stimulating muscle protein. Including protein at breakfast (and in snacks) helps support muscle building. This is because there’s an upper limit to how much protein stimulates muscle protein synthesis (about 25-35 grams5). Meaning, eating that big dinner with 60-90 grams of protein will not compensate for low-protein meals earlier in the day. Vast protein loads do not further stimulate muscle protein synthesis beyond what a 35 gram load does5.