Optimize Your Protein
June 01, 2020
Protein is an essential part of the human diet, we can’t survive without it.  But, who am I kidding, you and I aren’t concerned about survival, we just want to fuck shit up in the gym.  And protein can absolutely help with that.

Now, if you’re like most lifters, your curiosity about protein relates to one of two goals:

  1. You want to optimize strength and size at all costs 
  2. You want to get leaner without losing strength  

Whichever group you fall into, I’ve got you covered in this module.  I’ll dig into how much protein you need, when you should consume it, what sources are best, if you should supplement, what to do if you’re vegetarian/vegan/lactose intolerant, safety concerns and a bunch more.  

Let’s get into it.

Muscle Gains

Pumping iron increases muscle protein synthesis for up to 2 days.  As lifters, that’s what we want.  It’s why we lift.  It means your body is now primed to build muscle.  However, the overall protein balance in your body will be negative during that time unless you ingest some sort of protein.  And a negative protein balance means that even though your lifting sesh primed your body to build muscle, it can’t, because it doesn’t have the necessary building blocks.  However, this is an avoidable bummer because consuming protein after lifting shifts your body to a state of positive protein balance.  What’s that...?  Can you hear that...?  Choo… choo…  that’s the gains train pulling out of the station.

Protein is such a powerful stimulus for muscle protein synthesis that it’s been shown to increase muscle gains even without lifting, but it is MUCH, MUCH more effective for this purpose when paired with weight training.  So, as a lifter focused on muscle gains, one of your biggest nutritional concerns has got to be your total protein intake.  It’s strongly connected with increases in strength and muscle massWithout adequate protein, you are severely limiting the benefit you’d otherwise see from your training.

Gains aren’t the only protein perk though.

Leaning Out

Even though protein doesn’t directly induce fat loss, it can still be VERY helpful for those interested in looking better naked.  Don’t believe me?  In this study, a group of dudes lost weight without even trying, just because they shifted their diet toward more protein.

How does protein work its magic?

First, it’s the most satiating macronutrient, which means it will make you feel full longer.  This is helpful for both spontaneously reducing your daily calories as well as reducing hunger pangs while on a cut.  This study in lean men showed that supplementing with 50g of whey leads to up to 4 hours of appetite suppression

Second, your body burns more energy breaking down protein than it does other macronutrients.  Ten less minutes on the elliptical???  Yes, please!  Seriously though, fat loss is tough, you might as well do everything you can to make it suck less.

And finally, sure… fat loss is an important part of getting lean, but don’t forget the other side of leanness is building or at least preserving the muscle you already have during a cut.  Protein works wonders for this purpose.
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