Pack It On With Protein: Add Muscle Strategically With These Essential Tips

How much protein do you need and when do you need it? If you can answer this question correctly, then mass gains are virtually guaranteed.

Keep in mind that protein requirements are fluid, but most people can benefit from a daily consumption of 1 1/2 or even two grams per pound of bodyweight. Here, you’ll find some other key components to packing it on with protein. For a daily guideline of what, when, why and how much, check out the Daily Protein Primer chart. Figuring out how to meet your daily protein requirement doesn’t get any easier than this.

Protein Pointers

Every 2 To 3 Hours

Eat every few hours to supply your body with a frequent influx of protein, so the muscles have a streaming source of building materials that can be used to repair damaged fibers.

Be Stable

Frequent protein intake keeps the amount of sugar in the bloodstream fairly stable. Consistent blood sugar levels encourage recovery by warding off fatigue, and they help control catabolic stress hormones, like cortisol. This will also prime the mechanisms that help maintain an anabolic–or musclegrowing–environment.

Mix And Match

One nutritional school of thought says that using several types of protein per day is superior for growth, because each protein supplies different ratios of amino acids. Eating protein from diverse sources provides variety.

Speed Up

There are times in the day when you want to use a very fast digesting protein to get amino acids into your bloodstream ASAP: immediately upon waking, and before and after workouts. Reach for fast-digesting whey protein at these times.

Slow It Down

There is also a time when you want your protein to digest in slow motion; that’s right before bed, because you are about to fast for the rest of the night. Having a slow-digesting protein, such as casein, sitting in your gut will provide a slow and steady supply of amino acids, preventing your body from breaking down muscle to use as fuel while you sleep.

Wake With Whey

Due to the overnight fast, the body is in a catabolic state upon waking. This means that your muscles are being eaten by your body for fuel. The fix: immediately boost and replenish amino acid levels with quick-digesting protein.

Post Op

Fast-digesting carbs and protein are best postworkout, but consider adding some casein to the fast-acting whey in your postworkout shake. Research shows that when added to whey protein after workouts, muscle growth is increased further than whey without casein. The high carb intake is crucial, because it amps the body’s ability to uptake amino acids, drawing the aminos out of the blood and getting them into the muscles where they impact growth.

Seventh Heaven

Keeping dietary fat relatively low is important for keeping your overall digestion rate at its most efficient, so the protein choice at this time is turkey or chicken breast with some fat-free cheese. These are quality proteins with somewhat different amino acid profiles than powders and red meat.

Snack Time

The whole-food meal you have before you train should be fairly low in fat (less than 10 g). Research shows that eating a higher fat meal before workouts blunts nitric oxide levels and blood flow to muscles. Low-fat protein sources–such as low–fat cottage cheese, turkey or chicken breast–are your best options.

Seeing Red

Later in the day, red meat is the way to go, because it contains far more energy-supporting nutrients like iron, B vitamins and zinc. A slow-digesting protein, red meat contains cholesterol, the waxlike substance that is a building block for testosterone.

Sleep Tight

A slow-digesting protein (such as casein or cottage cheese) right before bed will keep your muscles fueled for the night and ensure that your body continues to burn fat (not muscle) as you sleep.
Author: Chris Aceto
COPYRIGHT 2008 Weider Publications
COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning