The Power of Protein, an Integral Part of Muscle Growth by Nicole Westlake., BSC, KIN & Alex Coulson | #FitnessFriday

Food high in protein on table, close-up

We’ve all heard about the importance of protein following a workout. Perhaps you’ve even chugged chocolate milk, downed raw eggs or gulped a protein shake after hitting the gym. But do you know why protein is important and how it is used in the body? Essentially, the body gains strength by building muscle and needs the essential amino acids present in protein to do this. Having a greater proportion of lean muscle mass is great for aesthetic purposes, but the corresponding health benefits are even more important. Your basal metabolic rate increases proportionately to lean mass volume, which promotes a positive body composition and state conducive to weight loss. Additionally, protein contributes to injury prevention as it relates to strength and stabilization enhancements. Skeletal muscle also promotes insulin sensitivity thereby lowering your risk of metabolic diseases including type 2 diabetes and obesity.

The trending thought was that protein must be consumed within an anabolic window of 15-60 minutes post exercise to attain muscle-building benefits. Current research, however, is suggesting protein intake on a more malleable timeline is still an effective approach to repairing and building muscle. Rather than timing, the more important focus should be meeting your total daily requirements.

How much protein should you be consuming? Well, that depends on your exercise and metabolic goals. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of protein intake is 0.8g per kilogram of body weight, which represents the minimum amount necessary to prevent deficiency in most healthy men and women. That’s about 50-60 g of protein for the average-sized person, or the equivalent of two large chicken breasts per day. This recommended value, however, increases for exercising individuals based on a variety of factors including intensity and duration of physical activity. Specifically, the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests a daily consumption of 1.4-2.0 g/kg to maximize muscle accretion and prevent the potentially dangerous risk of muscle breakdown and impaired recovery post activity.

Keep in mind, more is not necessarily better in this situation. Elevated protein consumption beyond requirements does not further increase muscle gains and can lead to a hyper-caloric state, promoting unwanted weight gain.

Whole food sources of protein are ideal based on quality and digestibility. Generally, these include meat, eggs and dairy. Vegetarian sources include nuts, legumes and soy. Individually, non-animal sources are lacking a complete amino acid profile, therefore more preparation is required to ensure all essential amino acids are consumed. For those of you that are constantly on the go, a whey or soy protein powder can be helpful.

Protein powder

Protein is an integral component to muscle building. Do not forget about this macronutrient when you’re planning your meals and exercise regimes. For more information and suggestions on how to safely integrate protein into your diet, see a Naturopath or other health care provider.

Nicole Westlake, Exercise Physiologist, Kinesiologist,Personal Trainer, Foundation Training Instructor, Pilates Instructor, Yoga Instructor

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Nicole Westlake, B.Sc. (Hons.) Kin.

Exercise Physiologist
Kinesiologist
Personal Trainer
Foundation Training Instructor
Pilates Instructor 
Yoga Instructor

Nicole’s training focuses on Educating and motivating individuals, exceeding their perceived imitations and improving their quality of life. Her training methodology incorporates functional, postural, resistance, cardiovascular, prehabilitative, as well pre and post operative rehabilitation, from the novice level to elite athlete level. www.BalanceFit.com

DR. ALEX COULSON, ND is a licensed and board certified Naturopathic Doctor practicing at Balance, a Toronto boutique fitness centre. balancefit.com

AlexCoulson