6 Muscle Building Facts


Nutrition File – Six Muscle Building Facts

1) Liquid Protein Best for Increasing Blood Amino Acids

 Key amino acids, such as leucine, are vital for stimulating protein synthesis and building muscle mass. Increasing these amino acids rapidly after exercise with a liquid protein shake might have the cumulative effect of building more muscle mass and strength than relying on high protein solid foods. Liquid protein increases blood amino acid levels of leucine and branched-chain amino acids faster than solid foods such as beefsteak or boiled eggs. A study led by Louise Burke from the Australian Institute of Sport found that liquid protein supplements were superior to solid foods for increasing blood amino acid levels at rest and during exercise. (International Journal Sports Nutrition Exercise Metabolism, 22: 452-462, 2012)

2) High Meal Protein Content More Anabolic

 Maximal muscle protein synthesis occurs after consuming 20 to 30 grams of a protein supplement. Higher intakes do not have additional anabolic effects. Consequently, many nutritional experts advise consuming 20 to 30 grams of protein periodically during the day. Nicolaas Deutz and Robert Wolfe from Texas A&M University, in a review of literature, argued that meals containing more than 30 grams of protein are highly anabolic. Meals stimulate insulin release, which prevents protein breakdown and decreases amino acid levels in blood. Meals become increasingly anabolic at protein contents above 30 grams because they increase blood amino acid levels in proportion to the protein content of the meals. They suggested that eating more protein during breakfast and lunch and maintaining high protein intake at dinner could improve protein synthesis. (Clinical Nutrition, 32: 309-313, 2013)

3) Vitamin D and Muscle Strength

 The link between vitamin D and strength is unclear. Higher vitamin D levels are linked to greater muscle strength in younger and older adults. Older people with higher vitamin D levels have greater upper and lower body strength. The relationship depends on age and baseline vitamin D levels. The relative contributions of aging or vitamin D deficiency to decreased strength in older adults are unknown. Adequate vitamin D levels are important for promoting muscle mass and strength and play critical roles in muscle protein synthesis. Some health experts have suggested that people should consume 1,000 to 2,000 international units of vitamin D supplements per day. (Journal Clinical Endocrinology Metabolism, 97: 4366-4369, 2012)

4) Preventing Muscle Tissue Loss

 People become less active when they get injured or ill. Atrophy (loss of muscle tissue) sets in after only 10 days of inactivity. Protein synthesis, appetite and metabolic rate decrease, while protein breakdown increases. Decreased appetite results in reduced protein intake, which speeds atrophy even further. Athletes experience reduced strength, power and endurance. A review of literature by researchers from Maastricht University in the Netherlands concluded that increasing protein intake during injury, illness or inactivity could slow the rate of muscle atrophy due to deconditioning. (Nutritional Reviews, 71: 195-208, 2013)

5) Light Load Weight Training Prolongs Protein Synthesis

 High protein meals stimulate protein synthesis. Adequate protein intake is essential to bodybuilders and other athletes. It is also critical for older adults who lose muscle mass with age. A Danish study showed that light exercise— knee extensions at 16 percent of maximum effort— prolonged the effects of hourly consumption of protein supplements. This information is important for people who want to maintain muscle mass but can’t train intensely because of injury or illness. It is not known whether this technique would work in well-trained bodybuilders. (Clinical Nutrition, 32: 236-244, 2013)

6) High Monounsaturated Fat Diets Improve Mood

Diets high in saturated fats increase the risk of obesity and diabetes. Saturated means the fat structure is fully packed with hydrogen atoms. Saturated fats are typically greasy or waxy solids and usually come from animal sources. Monounsaturated fats have a single double bond in their fatty acid chain. Foods high in monounsaturated fats include olive oil, avocados, peanut butter and nuts. Replacing saturated fats with monounsaturated fats can be beneficial to your health. They might also increase energy level and mood— according to a study from the University of Vermont. Young adults were fed diets high in saturated fat (Western diet) and, at a separate time, a diet high in monounsaturated fat (Mediterranean diet). Physical activity was 12 percent higher and mood and energy levels were also better on the diet higher in monounsaturated fats. Consuming more monounsaturated fat and less saturated fat promotes physical activity and mental outlook. (American Journal Clinical Nutrition, 97: 689-697, 2013)

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