Many people who are lifting weights or doing strength training of some kind to gain muscle have the false notion that they should be eating huge amounts of protein to help build and recover muscle.
A fitness guide would say that’s entirely wrong. Yes, protein is important, but not in the quantities that you might imagine.
If you are active, you only need around 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight to stay healthy and recuperate faster from workouts.
That translates to about 100 grams for 125-pound adults—140 grams of chicken breast, a glass of milk, and a can of tuna! That’s not a lot of protein when translated into food terms.
Read on to see why protein is so important to your muscle recovery and building process.
Protein Is the Main Building Block of Your Body
Your body uses protein to build tendons, muscles, organs, and skin. Not only that, but protein is also used to create neurotransmitters, enzymes, and other important molecules. As you might imagine, you cannot live with protein.
Essentially, protein is made up of amino acids. They are like beads on a string, and the more amino acids that pile up together, the more complex protein molecules you have created.
Our body is miraculous in that it can create a lot of the essential amino acids by itself. But there are some, called essential amino acids, that we need to get from an outside source.
Currently, unless you are on a plant-based diet (then you will have plant sources of protein), you are probably getting your protein from meat, dairy, and eggs.
If you are a bodybuilder, or weight lifter, someone who’s extremely active, then you would need to supplement with protein powders and such, but most normally active individuals should be able to get all the required protein from their diet.
Click the link to learn more about why protein is vital to your diet.
Why Is Protein Important for Muscle Recovery?
Your muscles are made up of protein. And when you go to the gym to lift weights or pump iron, there are microtears in those protein units. That’s why you feel so sore after an intense heart-pumping workout.
Those microtears are rebuilt and repaired by the body using the protein received from your diet.
The interesting thing is that the body ‘over’ repairs the tears by adding in extra muscle/protein, which is why over time your muscles become bigger and stronger.
All this requires protein, without which neither the repair nor the recovery could proceed as normal.
Your body is constantly using protein to build and repair your body, whether you workout or not. Protein is constantly being broken down, rebuilt, and broken down again. The cycle goes on and on.
Thus, if you wish to stay healthy and fit, you need to take in more protein than you break down. There has to be a net positive balance.
But there is a ceiling to this growth process.
After a certain point, taking in more protein will be completely useless to the body. And, in fact, might result in an extra load on your liver and kidneys as they try to remove the excess unnecessary protein from the body.
Any fitness guide will always tell you that if you are physically active, you need to take in more protein than a sedentary person and that will always be true. How much more is another question altogether.
Leucine: An Essential Amino Acid
Essential amino acids are the ones that your body cannot produce on its own. They have to come from outside sources, and most people get them from animal sources.
But leucine is an interesting one to take note of. As this scientific article from the Journal of Physiology says, leucine acts as a trigger element in a marked fashion in the initiation of protein synthesis.
It’s interesting because leucine can be catabolized within the muscle itself, which is why it’s metabolites are essential in stimulating protein synthesis.
This doesn’t mean yet that you need to start overdosing on Leucine. They are still conducting further research on this, which will be a good thing to watch for the future of weight lifting and bodybuilding.
Any Fit Girls Guide Should Always Be Clear About Protein Intake
No matter how much protein you take, it doesn’t mean that you can forget about all the other tenets of safe and healthy training. Yes, you want to build muscle, but not at the cost of your joints, bones, and other body parts.
Everything in moderation and balance should always be the motto no matter what. And this applies to protein intake as well.
Too many people have jumped on the bandwagon of eating protein to build muscle, but they don’t actually need it at all.
If you are consuming extra protein in the form of meats, and eggs, you might be unknowingly adding a huge metabolic burden upon your kidneys, liver, and bones.
Not only that, but all that extra saturated fat and cholesterol could result in an increased risk of coronary heart disease, and even cancer.
Even if you are taking in protein in the form of powders, shakes, and such, it’s still an immense task for your body to process all that protein. Our bodies aren’t designed to deal with such high amounts of protein.
Fitness Guide Tip: You Need Protein for Muscle Growth and Recovery
Any fitness guide will always delineate the importance of protein in protein synthesis and the proper recovery of the body from intense workouts. That is absolutely true.
But be careful about the amounts of protein. Stay healthy and smart about it. Do your research and always stay on the safe side of the allowances.
If you found this article useful, then check out the other articles on our website on health and wellness.