Proteins are extremely important for muscle growth: they are broken down into amino acids. These amino acids are used for the manufacture of tissue and provide enzymes which in return are required for metabolism.
- Proteins provide for the build-up of muscle fibers and connective tissue in the body.
- This process is called anabolism. When you exercise, your body creates cracks in the muscle fibers and connective tissue. The protein you eat, ensures restoration of cracks and strengthens the muscle fibers.
- The amino acids are built into new muscle proteins: actin and myosin.
- These muscle proteins are important in the operation and construction of muscles.
To build muscle, it is necessary that you consume more protein than you lose. It is said that a positive nitrogen balance is a big must. A lack of protein could cause the following:
- Reduces gain in strength
- Muscle size and mass
- May even lead to muscle breakdown, your hard training session.
However there is no direct link between the consumption of protein and muscle growth. Muscle growth is not only dependent on the consumption of proteins, but also the intensity of training and the genetic predisposition for muscle growth.
The body is also more efficient in the protein consumption: experienced strength athletes require less protein than beginners, because the body becomes more efficient at storing protein, so that you break down less muscle during the workout.
In general it is recommended to consume between 1.4 and 1.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. People who do not follow a fitness program, have a requirement of 0.75 grams per pound of body weight per day.
So now you may think: if proteins provide for muscle growth and repair of connective tissue, I better go eat a lot of protein. The more protein I eat, the more muscle I get right?
This is unfortunately not that simple because consuming more than 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, will not make you stronger or more muscular. There is no direct relationship between the consumption of proteins and muscle strength and size.
A study as published on Whey Protein Reviews, has shown that consuming 2.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight a day directed in similar gains in muscle mass as eating 1.4 grams per pound of body weight per day.
Eating more protein does not mean that the result will be greater muscle mass. Because when the optimum consumption of proteins has been reached, the added proteins will not be converted into muscles.
The largest part of your daily requirement of protein should come from your food. The animal sources like chicken, turkey, fish, beef, dairy products and eggs have a higher biological value than vegetable sources such as beans, lentils, nuts, grains and tofu.
Finally to end this article, the most important thing to keep in mind is the protein requirement to comply with as much as variation as possible in terms of eating. A combination of plant and animal sources provide a good combination of amino acids, fiber, vitamins and minerals, as well as carbohydrates.