Protein and Muscle Growth: The Basic for Athletes

For sports and gym enthusiast, it is common knowledge that protein rich food is important for the development of muscle through exercise. However, this process is often taken for granted, and many amateur athletes do not understand why protein is essential for muscle development. Understanding protein and muscle growth is important if you want to develop strong, lean muscles, and so we’ve outlined the basics of protein and muscle gain in layman’s terms, from what proteins are to their optimum consumption for muscle gain.

What are Proteins?

Proteins are organic compounds that consist of amino acids, which are the building blocks for tissues in the human body. The synthesis of protein is the process by which muscles are developed, repaired and maintained. The human body undergoes protein synthesis using protein nutrients from our diets and depending on our age, gender and physical activities, the rate of protein synthesis differs. For example, during adolescence, protein synthesis occurs at a rapid rate, even compared to a trained adult athlete, and thus muscle develops faster.

Exercise, Protein and Muscle Development

For adult athletes, protein and muscle gain depends on what type of stress the muscles undergo. For example, cardiac exercises like running and cycling, where muscles perform a constant and repetitive movement at lower intensity, the stresses are more cumulative. However, resistance training, for example with weights, involves highly focused and intense movements. The stress on the muscle is more significant, building protein at a faster rate.

How Do Muscles Break Down and the Role of Protein

During exercise, muscles break down naturally in a process called ‘catabolism’. When catabolism occurs, the fibres of the muscles separate. After exercise, the muscles recover and the process of repairing muscles begins, in a process known as anabolism. Anabolic steroids are named so because they assist in the repairing of muscles. In short, if the body produces more synthesised protein in this anabolic process compared to its catabolic processes, muscles will grow.

Protein in the Diet and Muscle Development

Diets that promise lean muscle development are always high in protein, and recommend protein consumption immediately after exercise. However, consuming carbohydrates after exercising is equally important, as glycogen is needed to restore the muscles. However research in sports science has proven that the degradation of muscles after strenuous exercise only reaches its peak after three days. This is physically noticeable when one begins to feel ‘sore’ and ‘stiff’ in the muscles after a day or two of exercise. Thus it is important to consistently include protein rich food in your diet for protein and muscle development.

Penny Munroe is an avid writer in sports related news and tips. Articles include fitness and training tips to reviews on the best protein bars on the market.

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