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Muscle Protein Synthesis – What actually is it?

Muscle protein synthesis is a term that has become more and more common among everyday lifters. It’s a term that is widely used but often misunderstood. We commonly hear it used in a phrase to trigger and spike your interest, sucking you into the marketing of certain products and promises that rear their heads in all facets of the fitness industry. So many people know that muscle protein synthesis is a good thing, but what exactly is it and how can we actually maximise its benefits?

Muscle protein synthesis, put simply, is our body’s adaptive response to exercise. It involves the removal and repair of damaged proteins, while generating new, stronger, denser and more resilient proteins in their place. This process is more commonly referred to as muscle hypertrophy, the growth and generation of new muscle tissue in order to recover and adapt the body to a stress you have placed it under.

To achieve muscle protein synthesis, we must first apply the stress, in this case the stimulus for this is resistance training. By targeting certain muscle groups with resistance, we can cause the required muscle damage that will elicit the adaptation response through muscle protein synthesis. Interaction between protein metabolism and fuel consumed through diet and supplementation will determine the rate and degree of muscle hypertrophy that can be achieved. Therefore, it is essential to provide the body with nutrients and fuel to drive this response.

Muscle protein synthesis is a transient response to training, lasting 24-48 hours post workout. It is important to ensure that during this period we are in a positive protein balance, allowing muscle protein synthesis to exceed muscle protein breakdown. One thing we want to avoid is negative protein balance to which in the absence of food and nutrients after causing muscle damage can place us in a catabolic state, breaking down our hard earned muscle. In order to mitigate this, we need provide sufficient amino acids to help stimulate and regulate muscle protein synthesis.

To maximise the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis we need to increase the availability of amino acids and provide sufficient amounts pre, intra and post exercise to prime, stimulate and continue driving the muscle protein synthesis in response to the applied stress. This will cause a greater anabolic response resulting in increased muscle growth. Utilising a good pre-workout that aids in and improves blood flow will help deliver desired nutrients to the working muscles when training. During our workouts, the addition of BCAAs, additional leucine and essential amino acids have all be shown in conjunction to help stimulate and drive muscle protein synthesis. Finally, a good digestible, whole source of protein post workout can ensure we have the building blocks required to recover and build new muscle tissue.

The reason we resistance train is to cause these adaptations, so stimulating and fueling muscle protein synthesis is essential to our growth and development in body composition. Three main take homes to maximise muscle protein synthesis include ensuring you enter the gym prepared, loaded up with good nutrients to fuel your performance. Continue providing a diverse spectrum of amino acids including both BCAAs and EAAs during your workout. Lastly, be sure to utilise a high quality, whole protein source post-exercise to refuel and recover. Follow these steps, maximise the effects of muscle protein synthesis and increase the rate at which you move towards achieving your next goal!

Author Glen George from our Blackburn store!

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