Gaining muscle, losing fat, and getting stronger are best achieved with a few simple nutrition practices.
You know you need amino acids after training, but do you know how much? Are straight amino acids better than a protein powder for repairing tissue? And what about carbohydrates? Do you need ‘em or will they blunt fat burning?
New research provides some answers. First, after working out, it’s indicated to achieve a threshold dose of at least 10 grams of essential amino acids (EAAs) to support protein synthesis.
Those 10 grams of EAAs can be gotten from a straight amino acid supplement or from whey protein. You could also eat a solid protein meal, but this will take significantly longer to digest than whey protein or amino acid capsules, so it would be more useful for the purpose of losing body fat than for muscle development goals.
In addition, there is supplementation evidence that taking whey protein will maintain protein synthesis after training for the longest period. A study that compared protein synthesis during the 5 hours post-workout found that a 25-gram dose of whey, which provides about 13 grams of EAAs, was more effective than taking 6.25 grams of whey with added amino acids.
But, the difference in protein synthesis from the two supplementation conditions wasn’t large, so if you are allergic to whey, taking straight amino acids is a smart choice.
Second, are carbohydrates necessary?
Theoretically, taking a carbohydrate supplement with protein can be beneficial because it may reduce cortisol levels and optimize the testosterone to cortisol ratio. However, if you consume food-based carbs in meals, supplementary carbs aren’t technically necessary to further stimulate protein synthesis over a protein supplement alone.
This suggests if your primary goal is fat loss, ditch the carbs and stick with protein. If you’re trying to put on mass, or depleting glycogen with twice-a-day intense training, doing a supplement cycle with carbs and protein is the way to go.
Kazemzadeh, Y., et al. Effects of Carbohydrate-Protein Intake During Exercise on Hormonal Changes and Muscular Strength After 12-Week Resistance training. Journal of Basic Applied Scientific Research. 2012. 2(6), 5945-5951.
Churchward-Venne, T., Burd, N., et al. Supplementation of Suboptimal Protein Dose with Leucine or EAAs: Effects of Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis at Rest and Following Resistance Exercise in Men. Journal of Physiology, 2012. Published Ahead of Print.