PrintWhy Athletes’ Bodies Have an Elevated Demand for Protein

The need for elevated protein can last up to 48 hours after training

The need for elevated protein can last up to 48 hours after training.

Getting a good amount of protein, like the protein found in IsaPro®, after a hard training session is the first step to faster muscle recovery. Did you know that your body has an elevated demand for protein a full 48 hours post-workout?

Previously it was understood that muscle protein synthesis reached a peak within an hour after training. However, new research is finding that muscle protein synthesis could reach yet another peak at three hours for some athletes and may still be elevated for up to two days.

Because of this extended period of muscle protein synthesis, the timing of additional protein intake is important not just right after training, but over the additional days of recovery.

What you want as an athlete is an increase in synthesis and a decrease in breakdown. While this sounds like a simple solution, the two processes occur through different pathways and extend over different periods of time.

In one study, scientists evaluated muscle protein synthesis after test subjects ingested a drink made of amino acids and carbohydrates after exercising. Each subject was tested one hour and three hours post-exercise. The study concluded that protein synthesis did not change from hour one to hour three (1).

Another study outlined the relationship between muscle building and muscle breakdown following exercise (2). In the study, muscle breakdown was completed 48 hours after a workout while synthesis was still elevated by 34 percent.

That’s a period of two additional days that athletes could be taking advantage of building muscle with more protein intake. Each protein-rich meal generally results in muscle protein synthesis lasting for two to four hours (3). Taking the example of a power and strength-targeted 185-pound male athlete, ideally 140 to 185 grams of protein should be consumed daily and if spread equally across four main meals would mean 35 to 45 grams of protein per meal.

Dividing your protein intake over the day in the above example can help maximize muscle protein synthesis over the course of the day (4). In fact, dividing your protein up equally over the day has been shown to result in better muscle protein synthesis rates compared to uneven distribution across meals (4, 5).

Since most people who exercise are in a constant state of recovery, this pattern of protein ingestion will optimize your athletic performance and maximize your recovery.

 

References

  1. Rasmussen BB, Tipton KD, Miller SL, Wolf SE, & Wolfe RR. An oral essential amino acid-carbohydrate supplement enhances muscle protein anabolism after resistance exercise. J Appl Physiol. 2000 Feb;88(2):386-92.
  2. Phillips SM, Tipton KD, Aarsland A, Wolf SE & Wolfe RR. Mixed muscle protein synthesis and breakdown after resistance exercise in humans. Am J Physiol. 1997 Jul; 273(1 Pt 1):E99-107.
  3. Moore DR, Tang JE, Burd NA, Rerecich T, Tarnopolsky MA & Phillips SM. Differential stimulation of myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic protein synthesis with protein ingestion at rest and after resistance exercise. J Physiol. 2009; 587:897-904.
  4. Mamerow MM, Mettler JA, English KL et al. Dietary protein distribution positively influences 24-h muscle protein synthesis in healthy adults. J Nutr. 2014;144:876-80.
  5. Nair KS, Schwartz RG & Welle S. Leucine as a regulator of whole body and skeletal muscle protein metabolism in humans. Am J Physiol. 1992 Nov; 263(5 Pt 1):E928-34.