Nailing post-workout nutrition is a simple way to lose more fat and gain more muscle.
Exercise nutrition focuses on the idea that muscle protein synthesis (the stimulation of muscle development) is best achieved by performing resistance exercise and ingesting a large dose of protein. Together, training and protein have a synergistic effect, and the best time for you to consume protein is after exercise because intense muscle contractions activate signaling pathways for muscle building.
The optimal dose of protein appears to be 20 to 25 grams with 10 grams coming from essential amino acids. About 40 percent of those 10 grams need to come from the branched-chain amino acid, leucine.
It is possible higher doses will produce better results in some individuals, such as older people, but this has not yet been proven by research. Leucine enhances protein synthesis for up to 24 hours after training, which is one reason that milk proteins are superior to other sources, such as soy.
Researchers have shown that whey protein is superior to all other forms for hypertrophy in men, women, and older individuals due to its fast digestion pattern and large leucine content. Adding nutrients such as arginine, glutamine, or carbs to protein has not been shown to enhance protein synthesis if the threshold dose of 20 grams of protein with leucine is taken.
Again, it’s possible these nutrients could enhance muscle building in some individuals or in certain physiological situations, but this hasn’t been proven by research.
Take away points:
• The optimal protein dose is between 0.25 and 0.3 g/kg of body weight of high-quality protein per meal.
• A large portion of leucine should be provided because the leucine content of the meal appears to be the most important predictor of post-meal protein synthesis response.
• Eating protein prior to bedtime can promote protein synthesis overnight.
• Whey protein is the best source for post-workout nutrition.
• Get at least 1.6 g/kg of body weight of protein per day for fat loss. Larger protein doses may be more effective, depending on the individual.
Phillips, Stuart M. Protein Supplementation and Resistance Exercise in Determination of Hypertrophy. Eighth International Conference on Strength Training. Norway: Oslo. October 2012.
Josse, A., et al. Increased Consumption of Dairy Foods and Protein During Diet- and Exercise-Induced Weight Loss Promotes Fat Mass Loss and Lean Mass Gain in Overweight and Obese Premenopausal Women. The Journal of Nutrition. 2011. 141, 1626-1634.