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#16 The importance of protein in athletes

It is well known that protein is essential to maintain the structure of body tissues, DNA and body cells. The recommended amount of protein for the general adult population is 0.8-1.5g/kg of body weight, but these are indicative figures, since it will also depend on the muscular constitution, the sport we do and the established objectives.

If we have more muscle, we will need more protein to keep it in optimal conditions and regenerate the fibers worn out during physical exercise. At this point, it should be noted that when we reach 75% of the intensity in a strength workout, anabolic hormones (such as growth hormone or testosterone) will be stimulated, even if we are women. These hormones will promote greater muscle recovery and, at the same time, will be enhanced if we have a good rest and give the body enough protein during the 2-3 hours afterwards -the so-called metabolic window-.

Do you know what mechanisms are activated in the body to cope with physical exhaustion? When we do sport a part of the nervous system is activated – called the sympathetic system – which, among other things, increases heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate and pupil size. It also causes blood vessels to constrict and reduces digestive juices. In this way, the necessary energy and oxygen is directed to those tissues that need it. Hence, the stomach is not fully receptive to eat right after training, so if we eat something too heavy or heavy, such as a piece of fibrous or fatty meat, we can have poor digestion and not absorb nutrients well.

In these cases, protein powder is the easiest way to supply the body with high quality protein in a concentrated, fast and bioavailable form.

Advantages of protein powder

Protein is the main nutrient and the most important organic substance in our muscles.

It is suitable for gaining muscle mass

  • It accelerates protein synthesis and develops anabolic processes.
  • Helps to have a greater feeling of satiety
  • Easy to combine with other ingredients as a protein shake

Proteins can be easily integrated into our daily life thanks to protein shakes and, in addition, they help to reach protein requirements in a simple way and compensate for nutritional deficiencies caused by an insufficient protein supply.

Types of milk proteins

In milk we can find casein and whey protein.

Sometimes, casein can be a little bad for people who have a little more intestinal sensitivity, due to the fact that it is a slow release protein. Because it takes longer to be digested and utilized by the body, it can be the perfect shake to get a protein boost while you sleep to meet your training goals.

As for whey protein, it is very easy to digest and reaches the muscle faster, so it is usually the first choice of athletes as a post-workout drink.

At this point, it is interesting to know that there are two moments during the day of maximum anabolic moment, which are just after exercise – metabolic window – to repair the muscle that has been broken, and another just before going to sleep to increase the IGF1 hormone. In the first case it would be advisable to take a whey protein shake and before going to sleep a protein shake of slower absorption such as casein.

Within the whey protein or Whey protein, we find 3 types:

  • Concentrate: the whey protein has not been separated too well from the other components, so it may also carry lactose and other components. It is a very simple separation and not everyone tolerates it well.
  • Isolate: this is already a perfect separation and only whey protein is present. Lactose intolerant people can take it without any problem.
  • Hydrolyzed: not only has the whey protein been perfectly separated, but it has also been previously digested to make it easier to digest. It is a more expensive product and usually has a less pleasant taste than concentrate or isolate, since some amino acids have a bitter taste.

Whey Protein to gain muscle mass

Whey protein, as previously mentioned, has a rapid availability in the body and a high content of essential and branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’s), so it offers the ideal characteristics to be consumed immediately after physical exertion in the form of strength or endurance training.

The need for protein increases depending on the constitution, the intensity of physical exercise and the frequency with which it is performed. If it is the case of wanting to increase muscle mass, a caloric surplus of 300 to 500kcal per day will be necessary, where the body will have an anabolic environment in which it will be able to generate new muscle.

Sometimes it can be difficult, especially in the growth phase, to reach the adequate protein requirements, which is why it is usually advisable to introduce protein shakes. In general, to gain muscle mass, 1.5 to 1.8g of protein per day is recommended, although it is always better to consult a professional to be able to personalize according to each case.

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