The timing of this article is ironic since most of you will be in an alcohol induced fog while reading this. Some from drinking away the pain of yesterday’s games. Some from celebrating today’s games. Oh well.
From time to time, someone has asked about how much protein they need to support their workouts. I have no idea and am completely unqualifed to answer the question. But the good people at Stronger By Science are qualified. Their article does an excellent job of breaking down what you need and when.
A lot of the recommendations were surprises to me. First, the idea the amount of protein needed varies very little, if at all, by size. “This might sound counterintuitive, but remember the two functions of protein for muscle: protein provides the building blocks for muscle growth, and it triggers muscle protein synthesis. It appears that even a relatively small amount of protein provides more than enough building blocks for muscle growth, whether you’re big or small.” I had no idea consuming enough protein helped to trigger muscle growth. This has some significant implications if you want to put on muscle.
The author notes plant based protein is less anabolic than meat based protein. That isn’t good news for us vegetarians. But we have a way around this! “However, you can (largely) compensate for the lower anabolic properties of plant-based protein by simply eating more of it (Gorissen, 2016). However, this means that protein recommendations should not be seen as a number set in stone. The exact amount of protein you need is dependent on the protein quality of diet. If you consume a lot of plant-based protein, you likely need to eat more total daily protein to compensate for the lower protein quality.” Thank you, science.
Apparently “older adults” have anabolic resistance. The author doesn’t define older so I don’t know if my 55 year old ass falls in that category. I’ll just assume it does. “…Since older adults need more protein to optimally stimulate MPS, they should aim for at least 40g of protein per meal if they want to maximize gains….” Got it. The makers of vegan protein powder just rubbed their hands with glee.
The author also has an “advanced hypothesis” that taking leucine is a big plus. He is very clear that branched chain amino acids (BCAA) are a waste of money and may even be mild detriment to gains. While leucine is an amino acid, simply eating a lot more protein isn’t the ideal way to get it. It’s got something to do with absorption times and the amount of leucine in blood plasma levels. Read the article if you want to understand this. Long story short, the author recommends taking supplemental leucine 15-30 minutes before consuming a meal for best results.