7 Effective Ways To Increase Muscle Protein Synthesis
Posted on October 16 2018
If you are starting to think that the process of muscle building is notoriously challenging, don't worry. We are here to simplify the process for you. Sure, it is tough, but with training and discipline, anyone can ace it. Your goal is to increase muscle protein synthesis as much as possible while decreasing the muscle protein breakdown. Here are 7 effective ways to increase muscle protein synthesis.
1. Strength training and muscle protein synthesis
Lifting heavy weights is known to increase muscle mass. When we lift heavy objects, the muscle fibers get damaged and this forces the body to ramp up the synthesis of protein to repair the said damage.
However, with time, the body becomes better at recovering from the damage, and you need to increase the muscle tension overtime to keep the synthesis levels up. Simply put, as the body becomes resistant to the impact of strength training, you need to exercise more, and lift heavier weights, in order to see the same results.
2. Protein and muscle protein synthesis
While spacing out the consumption of protein is a good idea, what’s more, important is that the total protein intake for the day is adequate. The goal should be to consume a sufficient amount of protein (0.8 to 1.2 grams per pound), even if it is consumed in a single meal.
But naturally, you will get better results if you also optimize the timing of the consumption. Research has shown that breaking up your protein intake in a few meals is the best bet. This is because there’s a natural limit for your body to digest, assimilate, and absorb the protein you consume (roughly 6 to 7 grams per hour on an average).
3. Protein timing and muscle protein synthesis
While some studies have shown that consuming 20 to 25 grams of protein at a time increases protein synthesis in the body, others say that an intake of around 40 grams also results in reducing the breakdown rate. This is the primary reason why bodybuilders should consume protein before and/or after their workout.
This serves as the perfect trifecta: provides amino acids as raw materials, increases muscle protein synthesis, and decreased muscle protein breakdown. Ideally, 0.8 to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day is needed to accomplish this.
4. Window of opportunity
Once the ‘muscle full effect’ (the highest rate of protein synthesis possible), no matter the consumption, amino acids will not be converted to muscle mass. Similarly, there is a time window to the amount of time the protein synthesis remains elevated. Usually, it is for a period of three hours. It obviously then makes more sense to consume just enough protein that can be digested in those three hours, to ensure maximum absorption.
5. BCAAs and muscle protein synthesis
BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, are usually a part of the discourse when it comes to muscle growth and bodybuilding. Three types of BCAAs exist; namely, leucine, isoleucine, and valine. A high level of BCAAs and specifically leucine, before and after exercise aids muscle growth by preventing muscle protein breakdown. The best part is that whey protein is a great source of the same.
6. Calories and muscle protein synthesis
To ensure that the rate of muscle protein synthesis is high, you need to nourish your body with sufficient calories as well. If you consume less energy than you are burning (a condition of calorie deficit), your body will activate its ‘conservation’ mode, and prepare for a scarcity for energy.
In such a scenario, muscle growth, which is an energy-intensive process, is not a priority. In fact, the body might be triggered to enhance its muscle protein breakdown to facilitate vital life processes. To prevent this, ensure that you consume enough calories to maintain or increase body weight (approximately 14 to 16 per pound of bodyweight).
7. Sleep and muscle protein synthesis
While the wonders of a good night’s sleep are pretty well-known, many do not realize that it is indispensable to muscle protein synthesis. Sleep loss has proven to result in lower muscle growth rate and higher fat levels.
Research has shown that the hormones released while we are sleeping are critical for muscle protein synthesis and preventing muscle protein breakdown. Inadequate sleep can also hamper the recovery process of cell damage inflicted during strength training. Depending on your lifestyle, make sure you get adequate sleep to give your body a chance to pause, rest, and heal. 7-8 hours of sleep is optimal for an average human in a day.
Suggested Reading: Understanding Muscle Protein Synthesis and Its Impact on Muscle Growth