The enormous array of available supplements can prove quite confusing for an athlete looking to build muscle. New products claim to accomplish virtually every goal for any type of individual, but the simple fact is that athletes need to consume the right type and amount of protein at the right time to build muscle.
There is no magic pill or powder to add muscle. No one has ever built muscle by sipping a protein shake. Rather, consuming protein is just one of a complex array of tasks you need to perform to achieve muscle gains. The process begins with hard work in the gym.
Here is a simple approach to using protein to get the most out of your muscle-building efforts.
Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are the foundation for muscle building within the body. Found within protein sources, BCAAs help muscle repair itself after workouts, resulting in bigger and stronger muscle fibers. After you break down your muscles during a weightlifting session, BCAAs help rebuild them bigger and stronger by stimulating protein synthesis (the production of protein to build muscle). This is why protein supplementation is so important for athletes looking to develop muscle.
Protein Types and Timing
Today’s market is overflowing with protein options, making it difficult to shop for an effective muscle-building formula. A good rule of thumb is to consume whey protein, which is fast-acting, an hour or two before a workout and then again within 30 minutes after completing your workout to repair your muscles. The post-workout window is the best opportunity to build muscle, because this is when your body needs protein the most. Another source of protein for recovery is suggested before bed in the form of casein (slow-acting protein) to aid muscle recovery while you sleep.
Even on days when you don’t visit the gym, you need to make sure you are taking in enough protein. On non-training days, the best times for protein intake are in the morning at breakfast and again in the afternoon after work or school.
Recommended Protein Amount
Every athlete who hopes to build muscle must consume the appropriate amount of protein in his or her daily diet. If you’re serious about strength and muscle development you must take in roughly 80 percent of your bodyweight in grams of protein each day (.8 grams of protein for each pound of bodyweight). This amount is ideal for athletes such as wrestlers or bodybuilders, who want to maintain their current weight while increasing strength and muscle.
For gains in muscle, strength and weight, increase your daily intake to 90 percent of your bodyweight (.9 grams for each pound of bodyweight). So, if a 170-pound athlete wants to gain muscle and weight at the same time, he or she should consume around 153 grams of protein each day.
A Balanced Approach
Protein isn’t the only element for building muscle. Make sure to consume a multi-vitamin geared toward athletes and maintain a well-balanced diet during your training.
Remember, protein supplements do not build muscle on their own. They simply help you build muscle through hard work. Stay on schedule, push yourself physically, follow the directions for your supplementation and realize that exceeding the suggested levels can cause problems.
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