3 Protein Best Practices from a Specialist in Amino Acid Requirements
You may already be aware that getting enough protein helps you maintain healthy levels of hormones, satiety, energy, and immunity. However, protein is also one of the most important macronutrients for aging. Protein, you see, is essential for maintaining lean muscle mass, which is necessary for long life. In essence, you must focus on protein if you want to live a long, healthy life. End of story
However, there are often contrasting expert viewpoints and contradictory findings on the subject of protein in the nutrition world. For this edition of the mindbodygreen podcast, we consulted Don Layman, Ph.D., one of the foremost experts on the subject of protein and amino acid requirements. He has over 120 peer-reviewed publications on the subject and has spent more than 30 years studying the significance of protein for muscle-centric health.
Make a daily protein goal of 100 grams.
The current Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, however, that figure just represents the absolute minimum quantity of protein you should consume to prevent nitrogen imbalance and muscle loss. For our 2023 Wellness Trends, Layman previously advised mbg: “Everyone I know strives for optimal health. Our goal is perfect health.”
In addition, it gets a little challenging to picture that “0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight.” Layman makes it easy by advising all people to consume at least 100 grams of protein daily: He explains, “We found from a metabolic standpoint, dealing primarily with women, that if they drop below 100 grams per day, they lose most of the benefits of protein: fatty acid metabolism, insulin sensitivity, weight loss, and satiety. “I think people just find it confused,” the speaker said of the “grams per kilogram” and other terms Therefore, he sets a strict limit on the amount of protein each individual should consume: “If you’re worried about general health, you should be above 100 [grams],” Layman explains. Of course, your height, weight, and way of living may affect that particular number. “If you’re an athlete weighing 200 pounds or more, you probably want to be in the 160 [gram] area,” he continues. “I enjoy actual figures. I believe they provide far more “meat” for folks to chew on.”
Eat most of your morning protein.
We understand that it can be challenging to consume 100 grams of protein per day. But according to Layman, spreading out your protein consumption (as opposed to consuming all of it at once) can result in improved protein synthesis in your body.
He recalls, “We were looking at this distribution question, understanding that the average American is eating about 90 grams [of protein] per day, but they’re eating 60% of it or more at dinner. Doug Paddon-Jones, Ph.D., and I ran an experiment2.” In this study, Layman made the decision to divide the 90 grams evenly among daily meals, i.e., 30 grams each for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We discovered that shifting daily protein synthesis from dinner to breakfast resulted in a higher amount of protein synthesis with the exact same calories and protein intake. Consider adding a high-protein breakfast to your morning menu, if possible.
Not all proteins are made equally.
Having said that, plant-based proteins may not always be as effective as those derived from whey or animal sources. Although plant proteins (such as those found in beans, lentils, or soy protein powders) are undoubtedly excellent, fiber-rich additions to your diet, they don’t contain as much leucine as animal proteins do.
Leucine stimulates the motor signaling pathway, which is in charge of promoting protein synthesis3. “Leucine makes up about 12% of whey protein, thus 23 grams of whey protein isolate will activate it. As opposed to soy protein isolate, which has a 7.8% content, you now need 33 or 34 grams. So, not all proteins are created equal, “Layman explains. That is not to imply that a plant-based diet cannot provide adequate protein. But you have to understand that in order to maintain an equal amount of total protein and total calories, Layman continues. In addition, make sure your protein powders include the right amount of leucine.
How Much Protein Should You Eat to Gain Muscle?
Protein is one of the three basic macronutrients necessary for a healthy diet, along with carbohydrates and fats. Your body has 20% or so protein, which is present in all of your cells. According to a 2019 article in Nutrients, obtaining adequate protein is essential for optimum health, growth and development, tissue repair, muscle building, and immunological function throughout life. However, hardly everyone consumes enough protein, despite the necessity of protein in your diet (and for muscle growth).
How much protein is necessary to create muscle is a hotly contested issue in talks on protein. Although there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for health and fitness, it is advisable to adhere to dietary recommendations to make sure you obtain enough of this macronutrient for growing muscle. According to a 2018 article in Nutrients, the international recommended dietary requirement for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, independent of age or degree of exercise. To achieve your fitness goals, you’ll need more, though, if you want to maximize muscle growth and recover from workouts more quickly Continue reading to find out why protein is so important for muscle growth and how it compares to crabs. We’ll also discuss the ideal protein sources for muscle growth, the timing of your protein intake, and how much protein you should consume daily.
The Benefits of Protein for Muscle Growth
Here’s a quick review before we get into the significance of protein for muscle building. Your body converts protein you ingest into amino acids (the building blocks of protein). There are 20 amino acids in a protein. Nine of them are “essential,” meaning they must be obtained through diet, while the other eleven are created by your body. Amino acids are required for muscle fiber growth and repair, according to a 2020 Nutrients article. For your body to function effectively and maximize muscle protein synthesis, you must consume enough of each amino acid.
Preservation of Muscle
Protein is more important than most people realize because it not only helps build muscles in the gym, but also helps you maintain your muscle mass as you age. In reality, a 2018 review in Ageing Research Reviews states that you start losing muscle mass about middle age (at a rate of about 1% each year). The Gym Goat owner and registered dietitian Reda Elmardi, RD, CPT, says that as you age, your body begins to lose muscle mass more quickly than it acquires it. Losing muscle mass can have major effects on one’s quality of life, mobility, and the danger of falling. Protein is also necessary for muscles to keep growing and remaining strong. Your body will suffer if you don’t get enough protein and will use the muscle tissue already present as fuel.
Your body uses amino acids to repair damaged muscle tissue after exercise. According to a 2021 article in Nutrients, your body cannot effectively develop muscle tissue if you don’t consume enough protein. According to Elmardi, inadequate protein intake can impair muscle repair after exercise. “Your body will continue to tear down muscle tissue if you don’t get enough protein, rather than repairing it after exercise. Eat more protein-rich foods to keep your muscles healthy and strong. These foods can be found in goods made from meat, fish, dairy, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds, and soy.”
“Protein increases muscle mass and strength. If you don’t consume enough protein, your muscles won’t efficiently grow or acquire strength even if you lift weights “says Graciously Nourished registered dietitian nutritionist Kelsey Lorencz, RDN. “You need to have muscles that need to be repaired (via physical exercise, with resistance training being one of the greatest ways to do this) and enough protein to develop muscles if you want to gain muscle and strength.”
Which Is Better, Crabs or Protein?
Comparing the advantages of crabs and protein in terms of promoting muscle building is a pointless debate. To maximize muscle protein synthesis and get the most out of your workouts, you must consume both macronutrients. Every one of them serves a specific purpose in your body. Although it has been shown that protein is necessary for the formation of muscles, carbohydrates are also essential for the process. According to a 2022 review in Nutrients, since carbohydrates are your body’s preferred energy source, they are the main nutrient needed to power your workouts. According to Lorencz, eating enough carbohydrates enables your body to store protein for use in building muscle rather than for energy.
How Much Protein Should You Consume to Grow Muscle
You will require more protein than the daily recommended amount of 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight if you are really active, an endurance athlete, or consistently engage in strength training. Your age, weight, and level of activity are just a few of the variables that affect how much you actually require. However, for the best outcomes, the American College of Sports Medicine advises taking between 1.2 and 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily.
Both the type and quantity of protein you ingest are essential for building muscle. For instance, wherever possible, choosing plant proteins over animal proteins can have a number of positive health effects. A 2020 study that was published in Nutrients found that plant protein and animal protein both work well for muscle growth. Considering that animal proteins can be heavy in saturated fat, calories, and sodium, the study also concluded that plant protein is preferable for preserving a healthy weight and lowering cardiometabolic risk factors. According to Elmardi, both plant and animal proteins have benefits and downsides. For instance, Elmardi points out that plant protein is more difficult to digest than animal protein. Animal protein has more calories and fat per serving than plant protein. Lentils, beans, quinoa, tofu, tempeh, edamame, almonds, seeds, and seitan are all excellent plant protein sources. Dairy, eggs, fish, meat, and poultry are all examples of animal proteins. According to a 2021 study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, choosing plant protein over animal protein may also reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and overall mortality. Meal timing is another element that affects muscle building. “A technique called meal timing is breaking up your meals into three smaller parts and eating them throughout the day. Consequently, the body may repair muscles and increase lean mass by using the protein from each meal “Elmardi explains. According to a 2019 paper in Nutrients, meal timing can also lessen appetite while increasing muscle size and strength.
Protein consumption was once recommended to maximize muscle growth and repair during your anabolic window (30 to 120 minutes after a workout). The greatest method to improve performance, increase muscle growth, and speed up recovery, according to the current study, is to consistently consume protein throughout the day, according to a 2018 article published in Frontiers in Nutrition. Get 20 to 30 grams of protein throughout three or four widely-spaced meals each day, ideally. You don’t need to stress too much about eating inside a certain timeframe if you consume protein at meals and snacks every four to six hours throughout the day, according to Lorencz. Restoring protein and carbohydrates within an hour or two doesn’t hurt, either.
The Bottom Line
For the growth of muscles, improved physical performance, and faster recovery, protein is a crucial macronutrient. As you age, it also helps to maintain muscle mass and improve strength. While carbs play a crucial function in providing your body and muscle cells with the energy required for development and repair, protein also plays a crucial part in recovery and muscular growth. By consuming a variety of nutritious plant-based proteins and lean animal proteins, you may get 20 to 30 grams of protein spaced out over three or four meals each day
When a person joins a gym, that is the only time they consider protein and eat meals high in it. Unbeknownst to you, protein is not only essential for the formation of our muscles but also one of the most prevalent nutrients in our bodies (apart from water), and it even makes up a small portion of our DNA. It is equally crucial to remember that protein is also used to create blood cells, in addition to the typical advice that protein is responsible for a growing body But where can we find protein if it’s such a crucial resource that our body requires to develop How can we ensure that the amount of protein we consume is sufficient and meets our body’s needs The response is quite.