August 21, 2017


Increasing muscle mass is a strong teenage desire that often causes some teens to seek drugs like steroids to achieve this goal. This is definitely not recommended as all of these drugs carry side effects and long term risks. Naturally, muscle hypertrophy occurs with proper workout routines coupled with a solid nutritional approach to feed the muscles.

Consuming adequate amounts of protein is a key need for the anabolic growth of a muscle. Anabolic cellular growth occurs when we stimulate certain pathways like mTOR which occurs during the feeding of all three macronutrients: carbohydrate, fat and protein. Anabolism also occurs via stretch receptors in muscle after weight lifting and when heated. This combination is the key.

In regards to protein, carbs and fat, study after study does show that the protein intake is the key. Is carbohydrate consumption necessary for muscle hypertrophy?

Yes, it turns out that it is important, but protein is by far more important for building muscle.Carbohydrates can help reduce protein breakdown post workout. If you take a placebo drink versus a carbohydrate drink and measure muscle breakdown post workout, you will find that you are more likely to maintain muscle mass with a carbohydrate drink. Ideally, you gain many benefits with a good post workout carbohydrate meal/drink.

Therefore, if you workout, you will build muscle. If you eat or drink protein, you will build muscle. But --- If you do both, then protein synthesis is compounded. This is the key if you want to build muscle and gain strength.
Proteins are made up of amino acids that are the building blocks of muscle. There are 9 essential amino acids and three of those are leucine, isoleucine and valine. These three are called the branched chain amino acids because of their appearance. They are the critical stimulators of anabolic muscle growth. We ingest these amino acids by way of complete proteins or supplements to build our muscles. Some examples of complete proteins are all meats and fish as well as soybeans and quinoa. Other foods have partial volumes of the essential amino acids - for example, grains like amaranth are excellent as well as other legumes like chick peas.
Protein timing is not as important for muscle building as carbohydrate timing is to sugar/glycogen replenishment for the endurance athlete. When and how should we ingest our protein to maximize our muscle growth and ability?

Giving protein before and after a workout dramatically reduces muscle breakdown and fatigue by maintaining a positive nitrogen balance.
In a study by Rasmussen et. al. in the Journal of Physiology in 2001, we see that whether you eat protein 1 or 3 hours post workout, there is no difference in protein synthesis between groups.
Does amino acid supplement ingestion before the resistance workout improve the overall muscle growth versus post workout ingestion? Tipton et al. answered this question in 2001. The answer is a 160% increase in protein synthesis by using amino acids before a resistance workout.
Does whole protein ingestion before the resistance workout improve the overall muscle growth versus post workout ingestion? Tipton et al. answered this question in 2006 in the Journal of Physiology. They found that the timing of whole protein ingestion, i.e. food, when taken before versus after a workout does not improve the muscle growth between the groups, yet both groups improve overall growth as expected.
In summary: an endurance athlete should eat 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram lean body mass per day and 1.8 to 2 grams per kg per day for weight lifters who want maximal muscle growth as their goal. This number may be as high as 3 grams per kilo per day according to newer research.

Breaking up the daily protein volume by consuming 0.5 grams per kilogram of lean body mass before a workout and again after the workout will have maximal effect on muscle hypertrophy. Scatter the rest of the protein intake over the whole day.

I would encourage a lot of vegetable protein with quinoa and non GMO soybeans scattered with lean, local, farm raised, hormone and antibiotic free meats as well. For serious athletes, there may be a case for amino acid supplements over whole protein, however, I am a naturalist, so I will stick with the food.

Using supplements all of the time may inadvertently decrease the intake of fiber and other micronutrients. This likely will cause a change in the gut microbiome that is associated with disease long term.

Build muscle and strength through hard work and proper nutrition!

Dr. M

Anabolic Article
BCAA Signaling
BCAA Signaling 2
Protein TIming
Jay Hoffman Summary