Whether you’re a guy or a girl,
you’ve probably been told that you need protein
to get the most out of a workout.
And you’re definitely not the only one at the gym
using a protein supplement.
In 2017, 9.4 billion dollars was spent on whey protein globally.
So is protein powder actually helping you build muscle,
or are you turning your money into dust?
Let’s talk about how your body uses protein to build muscle
and whether protein shakes are helping you
get the best out of resistance training.
Welcome to DocUnlock
where we help you make better decisions about your health.
So how exactly does your body build muscle?
When it comes to increasing the size of any organ,
the body only has two options:
you can either increase the number of cells, called hyperplasia.
Or you can make each cell bigger, called hypertrophy.
When it comes to building up new muscle,
your body can’t build new muscle cells,
so your body relies on muscle hypertrophy.
So how does muscle hypertrophy work?
If you look at a muscle cell under a microscope,
what you will see are long tubes of fibres
running along the length of the cells.
These are called myofibrils
and are full of protein-based fibres.
When a muscle cell builds more of these protein fibres,
it gets bigger and stronger.
To achieve muscle hypertrophy there’s a simple rule,
Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS)
needs to outweigh Muscle Protein Breakdown (MPB).
And to trigger Muscle Protein Synthesis,
you need 2 ingredients:
resistance training and protein from your diet
If your body doesn’t get enough protein from your diet,
then it can’t trigger muscle protein synthesis effectively.
And this is where the advice comes from
to include protein in your diet
especially if you’re doing a lot of resistance training.
Most people living in high income countries
get enough protein from their diet
for normal body function.
But we know that protein needs are higher in those people
who are deliberately trying to achieve muscle hypertrophy.
But does adding protein powder to your diet
help you get better results from resistance training?
Well there have been so many studies done on the topic!
If only there was a meta-analysis
that put all the results together
so we can get the best answer possible.
Ah HAH! Found it!
Published in 2017 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine
this is the largest review so far
on whether protein supplementation
leads to gains in muscle mass and strength.
It combined the results of 49 randomised controlled trials.
In these trials, almost 2000 people
were put on a resistance training program.
In these people, the average protein intake even before supplementation
was approximately 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram per day,
and this is already above the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)
of 0.8 grams per kilogram per day.
The experimental group received an additional protein supplements
of 36 gram per day on average,
with almost half of the trials using whey protein.
The control group most commonly received a carbohydrate supplement
to make sure that the total calories
were the same as the experimental group.
The average resistance program was 13 weeks long,
with training sessions 3 times per week.
On average each session had 7 exercises,
4 sets per exercise and 9 reps per set.
And the results?
Well, protein supplementation improved strength, muscle size and Lean Body Mass (LBM).
So you aren’t wasting your money after all,
protein supplementation does lead to some benefit.
BUT WAIT. There’s a catch.
First, there is a point where adding more protein
doesn’t lead to more benefit.
The researchers found that the benefit of protein supplementation
plateaued after a total daily intake
of 1.6 grams of protein per kilo per day.
For someone weighing 70 kilos,
that would mean a total protein intake both from food and supplements
of 112 grams per day.
And the second thing: even though protein supplementation did have a benefit,
it’s not as impressive as you might think.
When it came to improvement in strength,
participants who didn’t use a protein supplement
increased their 1 Rep Max (RM)
by an average of 27 kilos
just through resistance training alone.
Those who were given a protein supplement
had an additional benefit of 2.49 kilos.
In other words, protein supplementation
contributed an additional benefit of only 9%.
What does this mean?
Well the researchers tell the story best:
“the practice of Resistance Exercise Training
is a far more potent stimulus for increasing muscle strength
than the addition of dietary protein supplementation”.
If you’re a professional athlete where every last bit of strength counts,
then yes absolutely optimise your protein intake.
For serious athletes,
this study recommends supplementing protein intake
to an upper limit of 2.2 grams per kilo per day
to get the maximum possible benefit from protein supplementation.
But if you’re an average person like me
just trying to stay fit,
then protein shakes will help you a bit,
but not as much as getting to the gym
and actually doing the work.
So the next time you see someone at the gym
drinking some protein,
the real question is:
hey bro, do you even lift?
嘿 哥们 举得动铁么你就？
In this video I’ve only looked at
the effect of protein supplementation on strength training.
There are some other reasons why people use protein shakes:
to boost protein intake
without eating a lot more calories,
to suppress appetite
or to aid in recovery after cardio.
If you’re interested in these topics, drop a comment below
and if you’re interested in getting specific advice
about your particular situation and protein intake,
then I would suggest seeing a sports dietician.
A common concern about a high protein diet
is whether there are any negative effects on your health.
For example, could a high protein diet cause lead to worse acne,
hair loss or even cause kidney damage?
In the next episode,
I’m going to look at the science behind these questions
so make sure you’re subscribed for that
and the video will be up there to your right
when it’s released.
Thanks for watching and I’ll see you at the next one.
Whether you’re a guy or a girl,