Post-Workout Protein: The bigger you are, the more you may need!

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Post-Workout Protein

Post-Workout Protein: The bigger you are, the more you may need!

Amount of Muscles Worked During Exercise Better Determinant of Post-Exercise Protein Intake

By: Robbie Durand

It’s time for me to update my fellow lifters on the newest protein research.  Over the last few years, the research has proven that high protein diets are beneficial for increasing lean muscle mass and reducing bodyfat.  Whey protein is popular among athletes, bodybuilders, fitness models, as well as people looking to improve their performance in the gym. Whey protein contains an incredible range of essential amino acids, which are absorbed quickly which make it superior to other proteins.  Numerous studies show that whey protein can help you increase strength, gain muscle and lose significant amounts of body fat.  Not only is whey protein needed for optimal increases in lean muscle, but whey protein is also one of the healthiest proteins you can consume due to its high glutathione levels. Glutathione is a potent antioxidant for those that don’t know.

It’s been reported that 20-30 grams of whey protein stimulates maximal protein synthesis and adding more protein did not further stimulate protein synthesis.  The consensus within the scientific literature is that ingestion of 20–25 g of protein post-workout is sufficient for the maximal stimulation of muscle protein synthesis. The newest research suggests that 20-25 grams may be on the low side.  There are not many groundbreaking studies involving protein research, but the latest research from Kevin Tipton is a game changer.

It’s been assumed that the more muscle mass a person has, the more protein a lifter needs post-workout.  It makes sense that a 250 lb. lifter needs more protein after exercise than a 160 lb. lifter, but according to Dr. Tipton’s new research, that may not be true.  Dr. Tipton’s new research study found no difference in the muscle growth response to protein after a full body workout between larger and smaller body weight participants.  His research lab had participants complete a bout of whole-body resistance exercise.  Young, resistance-trained males were recruited for the study and divided into two groups, one with a lower lean body mass of less than 65 kilograms and one with a higher lean body mass of more than 70 kilograms.

Each volunteer participated in two trials where they consumed protein after resistance exercise. In one trial participants consumed 20 grams of whey protein and in the second, they consumed 40 grams of whey protein after exercise. The researchers went into the study thinking that the larger athletes with more muscle mass would need more protein post-exercise than the smaller bodyweight athletes.

The novel finding of the study found that ingesting 40-gram dose of whey protein isolate stimulated muscle protein synthesis to a greater extent than a 20 g dose of whey protein isolate during acute exercise recovery in young, resistance‐trained males. However, contrary to the researcher’s hypothesis, the response of muscle protein synthesis following whole‐body resistance exercise was similar in both groups of resistance‐trained men, despite different amounts of lean body mass

Earlier studies found that 20-25 grams of whey protein were enough to stimulate maximal protein synthesis, but this was after an intense leg-only exercise. This study found that 40 grams of whey protein were needed for maximal protein synthesis in males regardless of lean body mass, the difference suggests the amount of muscle worked in a single session (i.e. complete body exercise program) has a bigger impact on the amount of post-exercise protein synthesis, than the amount of muscle in the body. Experts also found participants’ muscles were able to grow and recover from exercise better after a higher dose of protein (i.e. 40 grams).

Consuming 40 grams of protein post-workout was more effective at stimulating muscle growth than 20 grams. This increase occurred irrespective of the size of the participants. The researchers believe the most likely explanation for the difference in response of protein synthesis to resistance exercise and protein ingestion is the amount of muscle activated during the exercise bout. Therefore, the greater the amount of muscle activated the greater the overall amount of amino acids taken up by muscle after exercise.  So if you’re only doing an arm’s workout, you may not need as much protein post-workout, but if you are doing an intense cross-fit type workout involving many muscle groups, then most likely you will benefit from the 40-gram whey protein post exercise dose.

Key Points: Researchers found that whey protein maximally stimulated post-workout protein synthesis rates at 40 grams.  40 grams of whey protein maximally stimulated protein synthesis rates irrespective of body weight.

The response of muscle protein synthesis following whole‐body resistance exercise is greater following 40 g than 20 g of ingested whey protein, Lindsay S. Macnaughton, Sophie L. Wardle, Oliver C. Witard, Chris McGlory, D. Lee Hamilton, Stewart Jeromson, Clare E. Lawrence, Gareth A. Wallis, Kevin D. Tipton, Physiological Reports, doi: 10.14814/phy2.12893, published online 10 August 2016.