New research shows you get more muscle gains when you take up to 40 grams
For years, those of us in the physique building and weightlifting community have known the research that states we should take 20 grams of protein after workouts to stimulate Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS). Some people have claimed protein wasn’t needed right after workouts but anyone that has ever trained or read the research knows that it is needed and beneficial.
Previous studies have shown that 20-25g protein is enough to stimulate maximal increases in protein synthesis (MPS) after weight training. The present study challenged this conclusion.
A new study just proved that for those that actually go hard during their workouts, 40 grams of protein was more beneficial afterwards than 20. This study was not a wimpy little study performed on a few people and only measured simple blood levels. For those of you that think it would be fun to be part of a study done right, think again because these guys sacrificed some pain to get us these results.
The researchers actually injected an isotope labeled amino acid tracer into the bodies of the athletes and also took actual muscle biopsies. This means they actually took a big thick needle that cut a piece of the athletes muscles out in order to test for protein synthesis. They also did serious blood work looking at amino acid levels at specific times before and after exercise.
Below is more details for those of you who want more information from the study. We broke it down for you focusing on the main points.
The bottom line? The harder you push yourself during your weight training workouts, the more protein your body needs afterwards to ensure protein synthesis.
Protein synthesis is what re-builds your muscles into the size and strength you are looking to achieve. Whether you are shaping for bikini or building for bodybuilding, you want protein synthesis to occur at the highest level from your workout and this new study proves we could use more protein after workouts to accomplish this. Since GIB-100 has 20 grams of protein per serving, this means you can actually take 2 servings of your pre-digested GIB-100 protein performance powder right after HARD workouts to get the most muscle protein synthesis possible.
Who and what was studied?
In two separate trials separated by two weeks, participants ingested 20 grams or 40 grams of whey protein isolate dissolved in water immediately after exercise.
Figure 1: Infusion and trial protocol
To measure MPS, participants were infused with an isotope-labeled amino acid tracer ( L-[ring-13C6] phenylalanine)
that was later detected in protein obtained from muscle biopsies.
By measuring the incorporation of the labeled tracer after training, the researchers were able to quantify MPS. One hour after starting the tracer infusion, participants performed
a whole-body resistance training routine consisting of three sets of 10 reps with a fourth set to failure. Exercises included chest press, lat pull-down, leg curl, leg press, and leg extension. Training loads were 75% of a participant’s one rep maximum with one-second concentric and two-second eccentric contractions. Immediately after exercise, skeletal muscle biopsies were obtained from the vastus lateralis (quadriceps) muscle.
Participants then consumed the protein drink enriched with the isotope-labeled tracer. Subsequent biopsies were taken from the same leg 180 and 300 minutes after exercise. Arterial blood was also sampled for analysis 60 minutes prior to exercise, immediately before exercise, and several times 30 to 300 minutes after exercise. Plasma samples were analyzed for blood amino acid levels. To measure the activation of protein synthesis signaling, p70 ribosomal S6 kinase 1 (p70S6K1) activity levels were assessed from muscle biopsy samples.
Resistance-trained male subjects were divided into two groups of higher or lower lean body mass. In two separate trials, MPS was measured after ingesting 20 or 40g whey protein following exercise, to test the idea that those with
greater lean body mass require more protein for maximal post-exercise MPS.
The response of muscle protein synthesis following whole-body resistance exercise is
greater following 40 g than 20 g of ingested whey protein
What were the findings?
MPS was 20% higher with 40 grams of whey protein compared
to 20 grams of whey protein after whole-body weight training, when not accounting for differences in lean body mass.
Figure 2: Myofibrillar fractional synthesis rate (FSR)
Moreover, MPS was greater with 40 grams of protein at both the 180 and 300 minute time-points, irrespective of lean body mass, as shown in Table 1.
Table 1: Myofibrillar fractional synthetic rates for 20 and 40g trials at different times after protein ingestion. 20 g 40 g 0-180 minutes 0.0501 0.0613* 180-300 minutes 0.0471 0.0586* * P < 0.05
Muscle leucine concentrations were greater with 40 grams compared to 20 grams of whey protein at 180 and 300 minutes. This makes sense, since leucine is a potent activator of cell signaling pathways that control protein synthesis.
Interestingly, intracellular leucine levels were higher in low LBM than high LBM groups with both doses combined. As shown in Figure 3, there was no difference in p70S6K1 activity with the different protein doses. However, the low LBM
group did show greater p70S6K1 activation at the 180 minute time-point, which may be attributed to greater concentrations of intracellular leucine.
Figure 3: P70S6K1 activity following whey protein isolate ingestion
LBM did not factor into the protein requirement for maximal MPS. This study showed that 40 grams induced greater MPS than 20 grams of protein in both high and low LBM groups, contradicting previous studies suggesting that MPS after exercise is maximized after ingesting 20-25 grams of high quality protein.
What does this study really tell us?
Overall, a 40 gram dose of whey protein isolate taken immediately after training stimulated MPS to a greater extentthan a 20 gram dose.
This suggests that the greater overall amount of muscle mass activation during exercise may have an effect on protein requirements for maximal post-exercise protein synthesis.
The big picture
Therefore, even after accounting for possible confounders, results from the present study suggest that exercise involving greater amounts of muscle mass may increase protein requirements for maximal acute activation MPS. The authors sum
up their conclusions in the paper: “It seems that the overall amount of muscle mass possessed by the individual is a less important determinant of the maximally effective dose of protein to ingest than the amount of muscle mass activated during exercise.”
Taking the results of this study at face value, the implication is that the amount of muscle mass used during a given training session may dictate post-workout protein requirements for maximal activation of MPS after training. Although more research is needed with larger experimental groups, the evidence is sufficient to suggest that those consuming only 20-25 grams protein after training may benefit from 40 grams. To repair damaged muscle tissue after strenuous weight training and add new lean tissue as part of the adaptive process, a certain amount of high quality protein is required. In the big picture, it is important to get enough of said high quality protein. Getting ‘only enough’ is of less importance, assuming there are no underlying health issues or dietary restrictions that contraindicate the increased amount of protein. At the best, bumping up post-workout protein consumption from 25 to 40 grams may be helpful. At the worst,‘excess’ protein is consumed:
Although more research is needed, the current study suggests that those consuming only 20-25 grams protein after training may achieve greater post-workout MPS with 40 grams.