If you’ve been going to the gym for years, you will probably remember that back when you started lifting there was one big rule that everyone followed when it came to muscle gain – you have to eat a lot of protein, all throughout the day, to be able to put a lot of muscle mass on your frame. This little piece of conventional gym wisdom always rang out in your head for a good reason – there isn’t any other way to put muscles on your frame than to eat protein and lift, and if you want to be an athlete or a bodybuilder you will definitely need a lot of protein.
However, there is a different problem here – what amount of protein is the optimum amount ? What happens when you eat too much or too little? If you skip a protein meal after a trip to the gym, are you making a huge mistake? Let’s find out.
A number of bodybuilding books will tell you that you have to keep your body out of starvation mode and you have to pay proper attention to the timing of your meals. This is the bodybuilding rule number one, of course, but there is another side to the coin – if you give your body some rest from all of that protein, it will freshen up your metabolic muscle building capacity.
What ??? It might just sound wacky, but there is actual scientific evidence supporting this claim. Recently, a research study demonstrated that dietary protein influences myostatin production and therefore it also influences the size and the growth rate of your muscles. If you’ve read up on your biology, you will know that myostatin is a protein that inhibits muscle growth – the more you have of it, the less your muscles will grow and vice versa.
However, this study was determined to see how this dietary protein can interact with satellite cells and if it can activate them. These cells are basically precursors to the skeletal muscle cells and they have a crucial role in how your body responds and adapts when it is being exercised. The research subjects were 18 healthy male humans, randomly split up into two groups.
One of the groups had subjects eat 1.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of their weight, while the other ate only 0.85 grams. With this diet, both groups were made to work out to see how their body was being affected. After that, the scientists performed biopsies on the leg muscles of the two groups and took notes of the recovery after working out. Their conclusions were expected – the number of satellite cells and myostatin levels both decreased drastically right after the people stopped exercising. This happened for both groups of subjects, but it was fairly expected.
However, after the primary testing, going from two to three days after the exercise, satellite cells and myostatin molecules had come back to their normal numbers in the higher-protein groups, they were lacking in quantity in the lower-protein group for far longer.
This continued with the finding that after three days, the amount of myostatin in the higher-protein group was much higher than normal, while in the lower-protein group the amount of myostatin was quite contrary – much lower. Now, the point of this research was to get proof that dietary protein has a modulation effect on the increase of the number of satellite cells.
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