Protein is necessary for maintaining and building lean muscle, but you don’t need as much as you might think...
In a recent study, 48 men ingested either (0, 10, 20, or 40 grams) of protein immediately after a strength workout. The 20 g and 40 g doses more effectively stimulated muscle protein synthesis (the process that helps promote the muscle repair and growth after exercise) in participants than the lower amounts.
However, the 40-gram dose didn’t produce any added benefit.
When it comes to choosing a protein source, whey protein (a fast-digesting protein found in milk) is best. Whey is a rich source of leucine, an amino acid that activates protein synthesis. It contains 10 percent leucine while other animal-based proteins have as little as 5 percent.
But don't run to the store and buy a big container of protein powder! You can (and should) get your nutrition from whole food. Some options include 1.5 cups of low-fat yogurt, skim milk, or cottage cheese.
What about a plant-based option?
High leucine/protein foods include: nuts, seeds, and beans!
So do you need to gnaw on chicken immediately after your last rep?! Nope!
Nutrient timing research has shown that muscle remains responsive to protein for a least 24 hours after exercising. Although the effect is higher immediately after exercise and decreases over time, it doesn’t mean the opening for protein intake closes after an hour.
In fact, Canadian researchers found that 20 grams of protein every three hours four times a day was better at helping men build lean body mass than eating smaller amounts more often (or larger amounts less frequently).
When it comes to building muscle (and losing weight), the most important factors are consistent workouts and well-rounded meals that include protein!