Does protein build muscle? | Live Science
Does protein build muscle? The answer to this question is a resounding “yes”. Muscle tissue is made up of a repeating structure of two protein filaments: myosin and actin. Myosin and actin filaments interact with each other to initiate muscle contractions, and over time the mechanical stress caused by constant movement will damage these protein filaments.
Therefore, your muscles need a daily intake of protein rebuild and remain functional. The mechanical stresses of bodybuilding is intense enough to make your muscles bigger and stronger, which is why bodybuilders tend to train with extremely heavy weights. This is also why they may use supplements like best protein powder and the best protein bars – this is how they make sure their bodies have enough protein to maintain their sculpted physique.
But it may take more than just drinking protein shakes to achieve the muscle you want. Many different factors affect the strength and size of your muscle fibers, including the type and amount of protein you eat. So if you want to know how protein builds muscle, read on. Here, we’ll discuss the science behind effective muscle building and help answer all of your protein questions.
How does protein build muscle?
The process of constantly building and breaking down muscle fibers is called muscle protein turnover. If your body is in the so-called anabolic state, your body will build more muscle than it will break down. If you are in the so-called catabolic state, you will lose muscle mass. Muscle protein turnover is a relatively slow metabolic process and it takes some time before the results become noticeable. As such, the goal of muscle building is to achieve a continuous anabolic state long enough to produce the desired effect.
According Nutrition Frontiers (opens in a new tab), two conditions must be met for your body to enter an anabolic state: your muscle fibers must be damaged and your protein intake must be sufficient to build new tissue. Resistance training is one of the most effective ways to trigger this state.
The amount of muscle you gain from weightlifting will depend on several different factors, including the frequency and intensity of your workouts. To maximize muscle growth, sports scientists recommend exercising at least twice a week and using weights to 70-90% of one rep maximum. A maximum repetition is the heaviest load you can lift, push or pull at the same time.
Older people may struggle to build muscle and may lose muscle mass faster than younger people. According to an article published in the Journal of Applied Physiology (opens in a new tab)it is likely to be caused by a blunted response to protein intake. Many studies (opens in a new tab) have shown that over a long period sepsis and inflammation could also reduce muscle protein turnover, as well as drinking too much alcohol or not getting enough sleep.
How much protein do you need to build muscle?
The amount of protein you need to build muscle will primarily depend on your body weight and activity level. Since body weight tends to be the most important factor, recommendations are usually given in grams of protein per pound or kilogram of body weight.
However, scientists disagree on how much protein is enough. For athletes, the American College of Sports Medicine (opens in a new tab) advises eating 1.2 to 1.4 g of protein per kilogram of body weight to maintain muscle mass and recover from training. The recommendations of The International Society of Sports Nutrition (opens in a new tab) are higher – up to 2 grams of protein per kilogram. And according to a meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (opens in a new tab)eating more than 1.6g of protein/kilogram will not provide any additional benefit.
It should be noted that when it comes to eating protein to build muscle, quality can be just as important as quantity. Protein molecules are made up of 20 different amino acids, nine of which are essential, meaning our bodies cannot produce them. To grow new muscle fibers, all of these amino acids must be present in adequate amounts.
Animal-based foods are considered complete protein sources because they contain enough of all amino acids, unlike plant-based sources. But you don’t need to eat meat to get protein. If carefully planned, vegan and vegetarian diets can provide the same results, depending on the Nutrients (opens in a new tab) log. It has also been suggested that the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) leucine, valine, and isoleucine may be more effective at building muscle than the others.
Am I consuming enough protein?
Kwashiorkor is a severe form of protein deficiency that affects millions of people worldwide, primarily in Central Africa and South Asia. In Western countries, some institutionalized elderly people, hospitalized patients and people on a restrictive diet are also at risk of developing this disease.
The main sign of kwashiorkor is edema (swelling under the skin) caused by too much fluid in the body tissues. Other symptoms include loss of muscle mass, an enlarged abdomen, fatty liver disease, and growth retardation. Kwashiorkor is usually the result of famine and humanitarian disasters, and it is unlikely to affect you. However, it is relatively easy to develop a marginal protein deficiency, especially if you follow a restrictive diet or suffer from health conditions.
So how do you know you’re not getting enough protein? Muscle building problems, unexplained muscle loss and recurrent bone fractures are telltale signs of a marginal protein deficiency. Other common symptoms include thinning hair, hair loss, brittle nails, and skin problems.
Why is protein important?
Proteins play many roles in the body. It is undoubtedly the main building block – every cell contains some form of this vital macronutrient. It is an essential component of muscle and bone tissue, cartilage, red blood cells and skin. Protein is also needed for the production of enzymes that help digest food and absorb nutrients. Without this important macronutrient, you may also experience issues with immunity, hormonal balance, and wound healing.
Proteins can also be used as an energy source. This can happen when you are on a low carb diet or if you ate more protein than your body needs. Just like carbohydrates, one gram of this nutrient provides four calories. What else, multiple studies (opens in a new tab) have shown that increasing your protein intake can help reduce your appetite by altering levels of important hormones.