Protein Basics

Protein is a vital macronutrient to develop strength, recover properly, rehabilitate, lose weight, and stay healthy.  However, you need to understand where it comes from and how you can use it for your purposes.  We will briefly go through and simplify the following segments:

  1. Sources
  2. Protein synthesis/muscle building
  3. Maximal Absorption Rates
  4. Injury Recovery
  5. Losing Weight (Thermic Effect of Food – Energy Expenditure)
  6. Weight Class Athletes  Application

Protein comes from animal products (meats, dairy, cheese, eggs), nuts, grains, seeds and legumes.

When you consume protein, it stimulates protein synthesis, which promotes muscle growth or recovery from muscle damage and injuries.

According to current research, the body can maximally absorb .3 g/kg bodyweight every 3-4 hours and 1.2-2.0g/kg bodyweight per day.  Some research indicates that 1.6g/kg day are the absolute maximal amount of protein your body can absorb.  With that said, research is ongoing and there is no complete consensus.  Considering this, a typical protein distribution for someone who weight 80 kg (176 lbs) is looking to optimize recovery, build muscle, or recover from a soft tissue injury etc. would look something like this (in addition to a well-balanced diet):

  1. 4 meals every 3-4 hours consisting of 24 grams of protein.
  2. Dinner doubling the amount of protein to 48 grams of protein to keep the body in an muscle building state throughout sleep.

In regards to optimal timing of protein, there is no consensus, however it appears that consuming protein within a 2 hour window after your workout may have a slight benefit.  However, if protein consumption is not maintained throughout the day, the slight benefit becomes negligible.

If an athlete has a soft tissue injury, similar protein distribution should be used as a piece to optimize recovery.

In regards to weight loss, whether it is for fitness or weight class sports, increased protein intake will help you burn more calories while maintaining strength.  The ability to burn more calories comes from what is known as the ‘Thermic Effect of Food.’  Basically, for protein to be used, it requires more energy to be broken down.  Therefore, just by consuming more protein, you start to naturally burn more calories.

So, protein is a fundamental piece when it comes to muscle building, muscle recovery, muscle rehabilitation, and weight loss.  Any questions, just ask.

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