Combining sports nutrition and training for maximum benefit
Weight training and the anabolic window
While any protein product can boost muscle protein synthesis to some degree, research suggests that whey and casein (both milk proteins) are optimal with greater amounts of branched chain amino acids being one reason for their superiority.
Essential amino acids
Essential amino acids, particularly leucine (18), are important mediators of muscle protein synthesis and it is likely that the anabolic effect of whey protein is largely down to its high BCAA content. Research shows that BCAAs (branched chain amino acids, i.e. leucine, isoleucine and valine) can help increase muscle building even in the presence of already-high protein levels (19).
Research conducted by Layne Norton suggests that MPS is elevated for just two hours after eating, even where amino acid levels have been supplemented. Norton proposes that those looking to build muscle supplement with BCAAs between meals to maintain consistent levels of protein synthesis throughout the day.
Additionally, bypassing the digestive processes that a full meal would undergo ensures a faster uptake of amino acids, increasing MPS efficiency.
The role of carbohydrates and fats
Many athletes get so caught up in the task of optimising their protein and amino acid intake that they forget the vital role that carbohydrates and fats have to play in muscle building. As we have discussed previously in our article on post-workout nutrition, carbohydrate consumption helps raise levels of insulin, in turn inhibiting the breakdown of muscle tissue.
- There are many different factors that can affect the rate of muscle growth.
- Top up on rapid-release protein after training and slow-release protein at night to optimise your body’s anabolic response.
- Consume EAA or BCAA supplements between meals to further promote muscle growth.
- According to the research conducted to date, 8-10 grams of essential amino acids is optimal for stimulating MPS, an amount that can be obtained via whole protein and/or supplemental sources.