How Protein Powers Muscles: Unveiling the Strength Behind Protein

Published on 23 May 2024 at 19:09

This might be old news, but protein has a lot of buzz around it. Any product that has "Protein" smacked on it always seems to stand out among people, especially in the fitness community. But what does protein actually do for your muscle development and why is it so important? Well, bear with us and we'll delve in and explain the basics and why it's so important.


What Is Protein?

How Protein Powers Muscles: Unveiling the Strength Behind Protein

In simple terms, protein is a macronutrient made up of amino acids. You've probably heard of them before. They're often referred to as the building blocks of life. Sounds important, right? Well, they play a major role in biological processes in the body. These include:

  • Muscle growth
  • Muscle repair
  • Muscle maintenance

Proteins are key for the growth and development of tissues, organs, and muscles. They also contribute to the formation of enzymes, hormones, antibodies, and neurotransmitters, among other vital molecules. In essence, protein is indispensable for overall health and well-being.


Importance Of Protein In Muscle Building

The importance of protein cannot be overstated. Protein acts as the building blocks for muscle tissue, providing amino acids for muscle repair, growth, and maintenance.

Any time you engage in activities that stress your muscles, small tears occur in the fibers of your muscles. Here's where protein comes in – it repairs these tears and promotes the synthesis of new muscle tissue, leading to growth and increased strength over time.

Protein also plays a significant role in regulating metabolism and supporting overall body composition. It can preserve lean muscle mass while promoting fat loss. Additionally, protein has been shown to increase satiety and promote feelings of fullness, which can aid in weight management by reducing overall calorie intake.

If your goal is to build muscle, it's crucial to consume enough protein through diet and exercise. Aim for a balanced intake of high-quality protein sources such as lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and plant-based protein sources like tofu and quinoa. By prioritizing protein intake, you can support your muscle-building efforts and enhance your overall health and fitness levels.


How Much Protein Do I Need To Build More Muscle?

For muscle building the range should be 1.2 - 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram (0.54 to 1 gram per pound) of body weight per day. A more specific guideline often suggested for muscle growth is around 1.6 - 2.2 grams per kilogram (0.73 to 1 gram per pound) of body weight per day. 

If you're an athlete you might need more, sometimes reaching up to 2.4 grams per kilogram (1.1 grams per pound) of body weight per day. We have a tool which can help you calculate yours, click below to read more.


Best Protein Sources for Muscle Gain

How Protein Powers Muscles: Unveiling the Strength Behind Protein

For building muscle, focus on high-quality sources, such as:

Animal-Based Protein Sources:

  • Chicken Breast: 31g protein per 100g
  • Turkey: 29g protein per 100g
  • Lean Beef: 26g protein per 100g
  • Fish (Salmon, Tuna): 20-25g protein per 100g
  • Eggs: 6g protein per large egg

Dairy (Greek Yogurt, Cottage Cheese, Milk):

  • Greek Yogurt: 10g protein per 100g
  • Cottage Cheese: 11g protein per 100g
  • Milk: 3.4g protein per 100ml

Whey Protein: 20-25g protein per scoop (30g)

Plant-Based Protein Sources:

Legumes (Lentils, Chickpeas, Black Beans):

  • Lentils: 9g protein per 100g
  • Chickpeas: 19g protein per 100g
  • Black Beans: 21g protein per 100g
  • Quinoa: 8g protein per 100g cooked
  • Tofu: 8g protein per 100g
  • Tempeh: 19g protein per 100g
  • Edamame: 11g protein per 100g
  • Hemp Seeds: 10g protein per 3 tbsp (30g)
  • Pea Protein: 15-25g protein per scoop (30g)

For a more detailed breakdown, check out our other article on protein sources.


Protein Supplementation For Muscle Growth

How Protein Powers Muscles: Unveiling the Strength Behind Protein

Adding supplements to your arsenal can help you top up your protein intake. Their convenience attracts people as they can be consumed on the go. It's also quite hard to get all your protein from diet alone. It's not impossible and lots of people do it, but supplements add that extra convenience to your life. See below for types of protein supplements available today.

 

Whey Protein:

  • Whey Protein Concentrate: Contains 70-80% protein, with some lactose and fat.
  • Whey Protein Isolate: Higher protein content (90% or more) with minimal lactose and fat.
  • Whey Protein Hydrolysate: Pre-digested for faster absorption.

Casein Protein:

  • Slow-digesting protein, ideal for sustained amino acid release, often taken before bed.

Soy Protein:

  • Plant-based protein with all essential amino acids, suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Pea Protein:

  • Hypoallergenic and easily digestible, a good option for those with dietary restrictions.

Hemp Protein:

  • Contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, fibre, and all essential amino acids.

Egg White Protein:

  • High-quality protein with no fat or cholesterol, ideal for those with lactose intolerance.

Brown Rice Protein:

  • Plant-based and hypoallergenic, though lower in some essential amino acids.

Mixed Plant Protein:

  • Combines multiple plant proteins (e.g., pea, rice, hemp) to provide a complete amino acid profile.

For more info on protein supplements and recommendations, check out the link below.


Optimizing Protein Intake

Distribute Protein Throughout the Day:

Spread protein intake evenly across meals (e.g., 20-30 grams per meal) to maximize muscle protein synthesis.

Include Protein in Every Meal and Snack:

Ensure each meal and snack contains a source of high-quality protein. This can include lean meats, dairy, legumes, or plant-based options.

Combine Protein Sources:

Mix animal and plant-based proteins to get a diverse amino acid profile. For example, combine beans and rice or dairy and nuts.

Prioritize Whole Foods:

While supplements are convenient, aim to get most of your protein from whole food sources like lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy, and plant-based proteins.

Stay Hydrated:

Proper hydration supports efficient digestion and nutrient absorption, including protein.

Adjust Based on Activity Level:

Increase protein intake on days with intense physical activity or resistance training to support muscle recovery.

Consider Protein Supplements:

Use supplements like whey, casein, or plant-based protein powders to meet your daily protein needs, especially if dietary intake falls short.

Monitor Protein Quality:

Focus on high-quality protein sources that provide all essential amino acids, particularly for plant-based diets. Complete proteins include animal products and certain plant combinations like quinoa and soy.

Listen to Your Body:

Pay attention to how your body responds to different protein sources and adjust intake accordingly to avoid digestive issues and ensure optimal muscle growth.


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