Why our body needs protein post workout
Have you noticed people walking out of the gym after a workout with a shaker filled with ‘muscle juice’ – a protein shake? You can see the endorphins have kicked in as these people have a look of contentment with muscles throbbing from the intensity of heavy lifting. The shaker and its contents seem like a reward for all their toil, evident in the sweat-soaked clothes.
Not merely a reward, the protein shake, hand-in-glove with weights, shapes a body by sculpting the muscle mass of desired proportions and size.
Protein builds cells and cells multiply to form muscles
Protein is the basic building block of cells. And cells build and repair tissue and muscle. Proteins are built out of amino acids – chains of small molecules. So, your body is essentially using chains of small molecules from the protein in your food for muscle growth and development. While your body makes non-essential amino acids, it relies on protein-rich sources such as animal-based food for the essential amino acids.
Interesting Fact: Why your body can’t make all of the amino acids
During evolution, the biological facilities to create essential amino acids from scratch became obsolete. As humans ate other organisms who did have these biological facilities, the body absorbed these amino acids in the digestion. Therefore, as the body started to source essential amino acids through diet, the energy expended in the mechanism to create them internally was saved for other survival activities.
Amino acids form a protein that builds muscle-forming cells
Amino acids enable proteins to repair and rebuild skeletal muscle and connective tissues. Out of the 20 amino acids the body uses to make proteins, three of the nine essential amino acids are part of the Branched-Chain Amino Acid (BCAA) group. BCAAs help improves muscle density and increases recovery rate because they are directly metabolized by muscle tissues. So, they are used to build proteins after an intense session of heavy lifting, thereby crucial for the immediate recovery of muscle tissue. Essential amino acids are effective at doses ranging from 6-15g.
Animal food-based proteins contain all the essential amino acids, while plant-based protein sources are usually lacking, particularly in methionine.
BCAAs are the essential amino acids for muscle-making
The three BCAAs function alone or as a group to trigger protein production for muscle growth and repair.
- Leucine stimulates muscle growth and strength. It regulates blood sugar before and after exercise.
- Valine prevents muscle breakdown during exercise and supports muscle metabolism and growth.
- Isoleucine helps with energy production and increases nitrogen growth in muscle cells.
Essential amino acids help power your muscles
Methionine, another essential amino acid, supports muscle growth and formation of creatine stored in the muscle tissue. Creatine draws water into the cells of your muscles, increasing protein production. Your body can utilize creatine as a quick source of energy during an intense session of resistance training. In other words, creatine allows you to work your muscles harder and longer, i.e., heavier lifts and more reps for strength and size gains.
The science behind protein after a workout
Intake of protein after a workout can increase the integration of amino acids into muscle fibers. A common recommendation for gaining muscle mass is to take 1g of protein per pound of body weight or 2.2g of protein per kg.
Muscle protein activation is at its peak within a couple of hours after resistance training. So it is important to have your protein during the phase to maximize your muscle mass, by increasing the size of the constituent cells triggered by the protein.
Considering the potency of leucine in muscle making, a meal of rich sources such as dairy, soybeans, chicken, nuts, and seeds, etc., is recommended. However, your body may not be able to metabolize them for the quality of protein effective in producing the protein that promotes muscle growth. Additionally, foods may lose some of their protein content during cooking and digestion, besides the processing before packaging for sale.
Protein supplements can come to the rescue by ensuring your body is getting adequate dietary protein for muscle growth, compared to the intensity of your workout, age, goals, and other factors. Moreover, when BCAAs are taken in supplement form, they make their way into your bloodstream in no time to feed your muscle tissue with high concentrations of leucine, valine, and isoleucine. Thus, they stimulate muscle repair and growth with high-quality and potent nutrients.
Protein supplements also have a positive and prolonged effect on amino acid balance. They provide additional benefits to the body so it can have the greatest increase in muscle mass, improved strength gains, and body composition.
On the GNC online store, you can choose from a wide array of protein supplements dedicated to post-workout consumption. These combine various protein sources such as whey, casein, BCAA, glutamine, and other added nutrients exclusively for recovery and growth. Buying GNC protein ensures you don’t fall prey to spurious protein powders available in the market.