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The Bodybuilder’s Guide to Protein

Author: Rudy Mawer Contributing Author

Every bodybuilder knows the importance of protein for muscle growth and maintenance; however, there’s more to this mighty muscle builder than getting your daily dose. From the types of protein available to digestion rates and optimal timing, you need to know how to maximize all the benefits protein has to offer.

To help you steer through the plethora of products out there, we put together a quick guide to get you on course to better muscle gains, fast.

 

Armed with Aminos

Protein is one of three macronutrients we need to attain in our diet (fat and carbohydrates accounting for the other two). It’s made up of building blocks known as amino acids, 20 of which are vital for your health—and physique goals.

These can be broken up into two categories:

Essential Amino Acids:

Essential aminos are those that the body cannot synthesize on its own, so they must be obtained through diet and supplementation. Essential amino acids include: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.

Non-Essential Amino Acids: 

Non-essential aminos are those that can be synthesized by the body, even if we don’t get them in our diet. Non-essential amino acids include: alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid and glutamic acid. For bodybuilders and athlete, higher amount of certain amino acids may be needed.

Non-essential aminos are those that can be synthesized by the body, even if we don’t get them in our diet. Non-essential amino acids include: alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid and glutamic acid. For bodybuilders and athlete, higher amount of certain amino acids may be needed.

Amino acid profiles of protein can vary significantly and depend on the source and quality of the protein. Absorption and digestions rates, micronutrient content, ability to support growth, repair and maintenance of tissues, and more—all contribute to protein quality and can differ greatly from one source to another. Simply stated, not all proteins are created equal. The same is true when it comes to the manufacturing of protein powders.

 

Pondering Powders

With supplement labels boasting so many types of protein, how is one to choose? Here’s a quick breakdown of the different varieties to help you decide the type that best suits your goals.

Whey Protein:

The gold standard of protein, whey is derived from cow’s milk. About 20% of the protein content of cow’s milk is whey protein. Whey is a fast-digesting protein, meaning it quickly floods the bloodstream with amino acids. It’s chock-full of the amino acid leucine, which is a potent stimulator of muscle protein synthesis. This makes it a good protein to consume for speedy recovery and repair of muscle tissue, following your workouts. That’s why you’ll find it in Kaged Muscle’s post-workout anabolic activator, Re-Kaged.

Casein:

Casein accounts for the other 80% of the protein content that makes up cow’s milk. Casein is a slow-digesting protein; it forms a gel in the gut, releasing a slow and steady stream of aminos to your muscles for a longer period of time (up to about seven hours). This makes it the ideal protein to consume between meals and before bedtime. Stick with premium cold-pressed micellar casein, which is the quality protein you’ll find in Kaged Muscle’s Kasein

Eggs & Milk:

Eggs and milk are two food sources that provide high quality, natural protein that is rich in essential amino acids. Egg protein is fairly fast digesting, whereas milk’s protein profile offers benefits like that of casein.

Soy Protein:

Soy protein is a plant-based protein derived from defatted soy flakes. All of the carbs contained in soy are removed through processing, resulting in a fast-digesting protein that’s ideal pre- and post-workout. Unlike most plant-based proteins, soy yields all the essential amino acids your body needs for muscle growth. Soy also contains phytoestrogens (isoflavones), which has raised some concern due to their potential affects on estrogen in males. However, several studies have shown daily consumption of soy to be safe. In fact, one study found no effect at all on hormone levels in male subjects who consumed a soy protein shake twice a day for 12 weeks.

Vegetable Proteins:

Primarily used by vegans and those with food intolerances, plant-based proteins offer a slew of health benefits. The downside is that they tend to lack important muscle-building aminos and have higher carb to fat ratios than their animal-based counterparts. For this reason, we often recommended you consume whey, casein, egg or milk based products when you’re looking to maximize protein’s muscle-building benefits.

 

How Much Protein?

While we all know protein is important, many gym-goers fail to consume enough protein per day. Consuming a sufficient amount of protein will ensure you’re body is functioning in top form and reaping benefits like: increased fat loss; more muscle growth; improved recovery; reduced hunger; improved hormone profiles; decreased blood sugar levels; improved Insulin sensitivity; and reduced risk disease.

Sufficient protein intake is crucial for both your health and physique; but your ideal amount will vary depending on age, activity level, gender, bodyweight, training intensity, goals, and more. For most KAGED MUSCLE readers, we recommend around 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight to meet your minimum needs and help facilitate muscle growth. However, there are times when more protein may be beneficial, such as when dieting or trying to ramp up your calorie intake without gaining fat.

Timing Your Protein

Research supports the idea of splitting up your daily total protein intake into smaller equal doses. By doing this, you’ll keep your muscle building machinery revved throughout the day while also staving off muscle breakdown (i.e., muscle catabolism).

What’s the best way to divvy up your protein? For a 200-pound bodybuilder, your daily protein intake requirement is about 200g. Splitting your protein up between five meals, you’ll consume roughly 40g of protein at each meal. Use this sample day for guidance when determining your split: 

7 a.m. Meal 1
4 eggs, 2 egg whites, mixed vegetables.
11 a.m. Meal 2
8oz lean meat, rice, mixed vegetables.
3 p.m. (pre-workout) Meal 3
8 oz. fish, potatoes, mixed vegetables.
6 p.m. (post-workout) Meal 4
1-1 ½ scoops of RE-KAGED
10 p.m. (pre-bedtime) Meal 5
1 scoop of KASEIN mixed with 200g Greek yogurt.

 

Whether your goal is to build muscle or lose fat, protein is a critical part of your diet. To get the most from your protein, ensure you buy a quality supplement and remain consistent with your total daily intake and timing each day. Do this and you’ll see results!

Whether your goal is to build muscle or lose fat, protein is a critical part of your diet. To get the most from your protein, ensure you buy a quality supplement and remain consistent with your total daily intake and timing each day. Do this and you’ll see results!


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