Having a protein-rich diet is crucial for building muscle, especially for people who are over 40 years of age and want to become stronger by doing weight training.
More Protein Please, If You’re Middle-Aged
A recent research says that people who are 40 or older need to eat more protein than the recommended amount and lift more weights to see a significant increase in their muscle mass. However, exceeding the upper limit of protein consumption offers no additional benefits for muscle-building, the study explains.
Protein, from any source and in any form, is potent for weight lifters, the researchers say. It doesn’t matter if it comes in yogurt, chicken, protein shakes or plant-based foods such as quinoa, chickpeas and tofu.
The general understanding is that muscles are made up of protein so it makes sense to increase the intake of this essential nutrient to bulk up the muscles. But a high-protein diet alone won’t build muscle, until it’s paid with a great workout regimen – which includes a combination of high intensity interval training and resistance training.
Science Behind Muscle Hypertrophy
Lifting weights puts an immense amount of stress on our muscle, causing wear and tear inside the tissues – which explains the soreness you feel the day after you do an intense workout. But the damage to the muscle is repaired within 48 hours through the process of protein synthesis where more muscle fibers combine to form new microfibrils which results in muscle growth (hypertrophy).
However, when your diet does not contain enough protein, the rate of tissue breakdown from intense exercise is greater than the protein synthesis, resulting in reduced muscle mass – which is counterproductive to your efforts in the gym.
An important thing to note here is that protein synthesis only occurs while you are resting. If the same muscle group is continuously put under stress every day, the body will not have enough time to repair the muscle tissues, resulting in muscle fatigue. This is why experts advise people to wait at least 48 hours before training the same muscle group.
Best Time for Taking Protein
Protein synthesis that occurs within muscle tissues after resistance training requires, well, protein. This is why you’ll often see large bodybuilders chugging thick protein shakes after finishing their workout in order to build muscle mass. But what about average Joe who occasionally lifts weights but isn’t really trying to become the buffest dude in the gym? Researchers say that even people who do moderate amount of weight lifting benefit immensely by increasing their protein consumption.
So how much protein should you really have in a day? And can women attain the same benefits of muscle growth from increased protein consumption as men? A recent review conduced by researchers from University of Hamilton combined the results of 49 past studies to answer the open questions about protein consumption.
Due to the variety in the studies being reviewed, researchers were able to observe the effects of protein consumption on people of different ages, genders and backgrounds. The first question that the research looked into was whether taking protein during a workout was more effective for muscle growth than taking it at a different time during the day.
Surprisingly, the answer was a clear yes. Although the growth in people who took their protein during the workout wasn’t huge, it was still significantly more than those who consumed it before or after their workouts.
The Daily Recommended Amount for Protein Consumption
Researchers also concluded that the ideal amount of protein for a weight-lifter is close to 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight and anything above this recommended amount would have diminishing results. The protein recommendation according to the current federal guidelines is 56 grams for men and 46 grams for women.
The researchers’ recommendation, however, is much higher and varies on the consumer’s body weight instead of gender. The head of the research, Rob Morton, said that people who lift weights and want to see growth in their muscles need significantly more protein than the federal recommendation. This is especially true for middle-aged men and women who need to up their protein consumption to promote effective protein synthesis in their muscles.