Exercise nutrition focuses on resistance training, protein ingestion and its effects on muscle protein synthesis. Muscle protein synthesis is the stimulation of muscular development and is best served with resistance training and protein ingestion working synergistically. The greatest effect of the two working in unison seems to come when protein is ingested immediately post-resistance training. Resistance training creates concentrated muscular contractions that heighten pathways, which send signals resulting in muscular growth and development. The quality of protein that is selected, along with the amounts, can heighten the significance of the synergistic effect. All protein is not created equal and must be treated that way. Research continually points to Whey as the superior protein of choice in relation to hypertrophy and stimulating muscle protein synthesis. Whey is a fast-digesting protein with a higher content of leucine, which can enhance protein synthesis for up to a full day. Whey is a derivative of milk, thus making milk the superior protein of choice for fat loss and muscle growth versus other sources such as soy, rice, or hemp. In its natural form, milk contains much more casein than whey protein. Therefore, supplementing Whey with milk is not suggested. In emergency situations this can be an alternative, but do not make this a habit. Post-workout is the single most crucial time that protein ingestion is optimized. In last month’s column, I discussed that massive amounts of protein post-workout are not only unnecessary and expensive, but that they may be actually decreasing protein synthesis. Just as the right amount of protein is essential, so are all of the other variables. The most pristine dosage of protein post-workout was shown to be around 20-30 grams of protein (Whey and EAA). Most individuals would find this easy to follow, but there is a tricky part. Roughly 5-10 grams should come from Essential Amino Acids (EAA), with nearly half coming in the form of the Branched Chain Amino Acid (BCAA) leucine. It may be possible that higher amounts of protein and BCAAs could be better for more advanced individuals who train multiple times in a day, for example, but I have not found any case studies on this topic. Other nutrients have been suggested post-workout as well; Arginine, glutamine, carbohydrates, sugar, and Creatine. There have been multiple studies done on each of these and results have been mixed in regards to post-workout. The most commonly suggested post-workout aid comes in the form of carbohydrates. Carbs are important to preserve muscle and allow for optimal muscle recovery (i.e. muscle glycogen). Post-workout carbohydrates that are fast digesting (high glycemic) are often suggested because of their insulin response. Insulin helps with the transportation of protein, EAA, to the damaged and contracting muscles post-workout. However, whey protein is already fast-digesting and carries its own insulin response value. As a result, research has not fully supported high-glycemic carbohydrate ingestion in order to achieve maximal fat loss and muscle protein synthesis. Please note that carbs can be helpful. If your goal is strictly weight loss and fat loss, purely aesthetic, do not choose to ingest post-workout carbohydrates. Intense athletes and fitness enthusiasts should select carbohydrates post-workout on maximal intensity training days that involve near maximal weight loads and lengths of time greater than or equal to one hour. On the other hand, athletes with a goal of increasing performance (i.e. power, strength, and hypertrophy) should ingest carbohydrates post-workout to aid in muscle glycogen restoration while increasing insulin sensitivity. If your workout requires post-workout carbohydrates, choose 10-15 grams of high glycemic carbs. Here is a general rule of thumb that should be followed to maximize muscular protein synthesis and fat loss: Pre-Workout: ingest 6-10 grams of protein, with 3-5 grams coming from EAA. Intra-Workout: ingest 10-15 grams of EAA, with 40-50% coming from Leucine. I understand this may be difficult, so start low and work your way up. Post-Workout: ingest 20-30 grams of Whey protein and EAA, with 5-10 grams coming from Leucine.
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