Proteins are chemical compounds that contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen ---the same parts found in carbohydrates and lipids ---but also contain nitrogen. Nitrogen is the key word in protein, for 2 reasons: Because nitrogen must attach to 3 other atoms, it introduces a complexity to the amino acids, which form proteins; nitrogen balance is important to bodybuilders in that we want to keep a positive nitrogen balance within our bodies to produce more useable protein.
The protein absorption process
is fairly straightforward. As described in Whitney and Hamilton's text,
Understanding Nutrition, the basics are easy to understand:
The amino acids which make up the proteins sources we ingest, and the ones we internally produce, vary widely in their chemical complexities. It's generally agreed that there are 28 amino acids, but that includes cystine and ornithine. Of these, there are 8 which are called essential amino acids: We need all of these 8 within us to produce a complete protein internally. The remaining are called non-essential amino acids. In the past few years the term "conditionally essential" has popped up to describe non-essential amino acids which are thought by some to be inadequately produced by the body for sufficient maintenance of muscular mass by the bodybuilder, usually taurine and glutamine.
Beyond these generally accepted conditions, the role of protein and the amino acids and their effects on the bodybuilder are widely and vigorously debated. It's rare, outside of politics and religion, to find the arguments so vehemently and hotly contested. These arguments stem from beliefs, and some of these beliefs are validated by current science, and some are not. But anecdotal evidence sometimes predates scientific validation, making these beliefs worthy of attention and description.
In this edition of The Protein Bible, The First 5 Voices, we've strived to include a number of opinions. Like the rest of Max Muscle Bodybuilding and Fitness News, these opinions are not necessarily ours, and we disagree with some of the information. But they are the current and strong voices of experts in the field. As such, they deserve a forum. Each piece is a valuable lesson in applied science and belief. In that sense, the information presented and the responses from readers echoes the dynamics surrounding the "real" Bible. We welcome your response and opinion.
Mike Falcon, Editor
Interview: Peter Lemon, Ph.D.
Peter Lemon Ph.D. is considered one of- often the- leading authority on protein intake and its effects on athletes and performance. His seminal research, widely published in respected academic journals, has been used as the launching pad for numerous expert opinions, studies, and observations. He is Chairman of the Exercise Nutrition Department at The University of Western Ontario (Canada). In this interview, using Dr. Lemon's research as a departure point, Max Muscle editor Mike Falcon and Dr. Lemon discuss the quest for determining optimum protein intake.
MM: In looking over a number
of the pieces of research regarding optimal protein intake, I've noticed
that's there's been a gradual increase in protein intake recommendations.
Perhaps the most quoted piece for protein intake has been your piece for
the American Physiological Society, Protein Requirements and Muscle Mass/Strength
Changes During Intensive Training in Novice Bodybuilders (Journal of Applied
Physiology, 1992; 73: p767-775). The funny thing I've noticed is that
even the people opposed to higher protein for athletes may take out selected
portions of your research to support their arguments. But you're clear
about recommended protein intakes for both beginning body builders and
advanced bodybuilders, which are rather high compared to what many others
have suggested, even when they use you as a resource. You've suggested
1.4 to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day (.6 to
.73 grams of protein per pound) as an overall template. Your friend and
sometime research partner Tarnopolsky, suggests that even higher amounts
seem useful for elite weightlifters when he studied advanced lifters who
were taking 2.2 to 3.5 protein grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day
(editor's note: using this as an example, abbreviations hereafter will
be 2.2 - 3.5 pg/k [protein grams per kilogram of bodyweight]; to get the
grams of protein per pound, divide the number of grams of protein per
kilogram by the 2.2 pounds contained in each kilogram. For example, 2.2
to 3.5 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight equals 1 to 1.6 grams
per pound [2.2 divided by 2.2 =1; 3.5 divided by 2.2 = 1.5909, or 1.6]).
So what we're getting is that the latest research seems now to support
anecdotal information related by elite bodybuilders and powerlifters:
That somewhere in excess of a gram per pound of body weight is substantiated
WHY WHEY? SOY IN YOUR FACE!
You're probably asking, "What the heck does he mean by that?" The title will become evident once you see the big picture of what is going on in the supplement industry regarding protein powders. Do you remember many years ago, when weight gainers were the big thing and protein powders were out? Then, in like a storm, came the low calorie weight gainers (yeah, right!), the criticizing of the high calorie diet, and the inundation of whey protein. These marketing cycles are easy to discern:: promote something, then dispel it, promote it again, then dispel it. This way, the supplement companies always have something "new" to bring to the market. (This cycling prompts me to predict that very shortly there will be resurgence in the high calorie diet. It might be slightly modified, but a high calorie diet nonetheless. Why recycle this disaster? Most supplement companies do not really care what the truth about supplements is they will promote only what is "hot" and is making money. And it's time for another new product).
Back to protein powders: Is whey really better? Are you getting what you pay for? Studies have been done to assess any differences in weight gain between individuals supplementing with whey protein, soy protein, or egg protein. SURPRISE, SURPRISE! There were no differences whatsoever (statistically speaking) between the effectiveness of the proteins. Remember, all 3 of these proteins are designed to stimulate growth, albeit in chicks, calves, etc.
So, is one really better than another? Whey proponents point to a variety of its advantages: 1) It has an ultra high BV (biological value), exceeding, by far, every other protein. One manufacturer claims that their protein has a BV of 168 over 50% better than egg protein! 2) Some companies also claim that their whey protein is special because it has di- and tri- peptides. They claim that these peptides enhance the immune system, and help to greatly increase the BV of the protein. 3) Another claim is that whey contains certain specific peptides that greatly enhance the immune system. 4) Finally, it is claimed that whey has a significantly higher amount of glutamine and the anti-catabolic branched chain amino acids than any other protein.
Are any of the above statements regarding whey protein true? Yes, but just one. If processed correctly, whey will have small amounts of peptides (lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase, immunoglobulin, etc.) that definitely enhance the immune system. These peptides are NATURALLY OCCURRING and are not created by hydrolyzing the protein (breaking large peptides into smaller ones). Many studies have been completed regarding the effect of whey on the immune system and it is generally recognized in the scientific community that whey positively stimulates the immune system.
But the di- and tri- peptides that you're continually hearing about regarding whey, however, have nothing to do with these naturally occurring peptides. If processed using low heat, any type of whey, including sweet whey (which is basically unprocessed), will have these naturally occurring peptides. A hydrolyzed whey can have di- and tri- peptides, but these do nothing for the immune system, are not naturally occurring, and are basically worthless to the bodybuilder! Virtually unmentioned in all the hype, whey also has been shown to have a positive effect on a person's cholesterol and triglyceride profile. With long-term use, characteristics like this become very important benefits of supplementing with a particular protein. (As a note, several studies have shown casein to have a negative impact on a person's cholesterol profile!)
Now let's consider the other claims about whey: The ultra-high BV, the di- and tri- peptides, and statements about glutamine and BCAAs. This is where it gets interesting, and where the public is being deceived and manipulated. I have researched this topic rather thoroughly and have talked to experts in the field who work for the companies which manufacture and process the raw, bulk products. I have questioned several experts as to the quality of the various proteins and have found a few interesting facts. First and foremost, BV and PER are OUTDATED. The newest and most accurate measurement of a protein's quality for a HUMAN is the PDCAAS, the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score. It's a mouthful, and yet it's an excellent industry standard.
According to this scale, whey is not necessarily the "best" protein. In fact, casein, egg, soy, and whey are all considered a "one" (top score) on this scale. Does this mean that all of the above proteins are equal? Not at all (and we'll get into the pros and cons of each protein later in the article). What it does mean is that all of the above-mentioned proteins will supply the BASIC BUILDING BLOCKS for proteinaceous tissue growth and recuperation as well as the next one. I also inquired about hydrolyzation (breaking the proteins into smaller fractions like "di and tri peptides"). What I found was that the hydrolyzed product caused less nitrogen retention than a similar non-hydrolyzed whey. As a note: The hydrolyzed product that I inquired about was reputed to be the best in the industry, with a 27% hydrolyzation, no bitter taste, and a cost from the manufacturer of greater than $8.00 per pound!
Consider this and you'll quickly realize that many supplement companies (who don't actually manufacture the whey, but buy the raw product from a converter) are telling some "fibs" about whey protein. For example, a BV of 168 is absolutely ludicrous. Whey manufacturers sometimes still use BV and almost always rate whey protein as a 94 BV! Thus, when you see this 168 BV listed on the label of several manufacturers' whey protein, just turn your head, know you're being scammed, and absolutely don't buy!
If it doesn't further increase nitrogen retention, then what's the point including and mentioning di- and tri- peptides? There IS a good reason for hydrolyzing a protein and having short peptides, but it has nothing to do with BV/nitrogen retention. Instead, it has everything to do with how fast and easy the product is absorbed in the gut. Regular, undigested whey will be broken down into di- and tri- peptides via enzymes in a person's gut, and will be absorbed as such; but the whole process just takes a little longer. Hydrolyzed products are basically only useful in baby food or hospital situations where a person's digestive system is not functioning optimally, or when protein delivery is needed very quickly.
Is there any benefit to the bodybuilder in using a hydrolyzed product? To tell you the truth, I would have to say NO, except possibly for the benefit of having a quickly absorbed protein immediately after a workout to ensure the muscle tissue is flooded with nutrients in a timely manner. Finally, the cost of hydrolyzed whey is outrageous, and its taste (except that one top notch product) is usually absolutely horrible. Trust me: if you're trying to induce vomiting, just take a little hydrolyzed whey protein!
Isn't the claim true about whey having significantly higher amounts of glutamine and BCAAs? Sorry, but NO! Whey does have the highest amounts of BCAAs of any protein, but it does not contain significantly higher amounts. When it comes to the amounts of glutamine, soy beats whey hands down. For every 100 grams of protein, whey has 20.1 grams of BCAAs and 4.9 grams of glutamine. Perhaps to your surprise, soy has 18.1 grams of BCAAs and a whopping 10.5 grams of glutamine! Again, we have been lied to, and deceived. Of course it's not hard to figure out why when you consider that soy isolate is no more than one quarter the cost of a whey isolate. I think I am going to vomit (too much hydrolyzed whey!!!!!!)
Okay. You're asking, "C'mon Derek, what does all of this mean to us bodybuilders?" I'll tell you: You're being ripped off ROYALLY! Most companies are selling whey protein concentrate (WPC) and saying that their product is ion-exchange, etc, etc. Let me explain a few more details. Ion exchange really doesn't mean anything in terms of the quality of the protein powder as a whole! Any high quality, pure protein will be labeled an ISOLATE and this is what you MUST look for. A true ion-exchange process CAN yield a good isolate but it is by far not the only process around in order to get a superior whey protein. An isolate will have very little fat and lactose, and will be about 90% protein (the protein fractions are "isolated" from the rest of the material). On the other hand, a WPC is vastly inferior, with about 7% fat and lactose, and only 75% protein (The protein in WPC is usually pretty good but who wants to deal with all of the fat and lactose?) Interestingly, WPC costs less than half of what an isolate costs. Unfortunately, both products look and taste about the same, so it becomes very hard to know what you have. Basically, you have to trust the manufacturer (supplement company) of the particular product.
Here's the picture-the industry through various articles in muscle magazines touts the benefits and characteristics of a whey protein ISOLATE and turns around and uses a CONCENTRATE. Tell me, who's the wiser? The supplement companies, that's who, and they're a whole lot richer to boot! Some manufacturers will put 98% WPC in their product and then put in 1% of a hydrolyzed product (remember this tastes horrible!) and 1% of an isolate. Then, they can legally claim all types of stuff on their label-di and tri peptides, ion-exchange, blah, blah, blah! Some of you guys are probably getting a little angry and are asking what can be done. To start, read the ingredient list very carefully. Look for the terms WPC, Isolate, Hydrolyzed, etc. Also, look at the nutritional specs. A true, high quality protein will have just about zero fat and carbohydrates per serving. If it has even one or 2 grams of fat or carbs per serving then you know you may have been had with a WPC. (Editor's note: Of course, you really do have to look at the label closely: If a manufacturer has included fructose, a fairly expensive complex fruit sugar that assists in absorption through the slow release of insulin, you'll find some carbs). To make matters worse, experts in the field have told me that they have first hand evidence of supplement companies totally mislabeling their product. If you purchase a product through a retail outlet then all I can say is GOOD LUCK!
What about the other available proteins egg, casein, and soy? How do these compare? First, let me state that all of the above proteins are decent if processed correctly. Each will provide the body very efficiently with the protein that it "needs". Before you say it, I know your response-"That's all wonderful, but what is the best protein for me, a bodybuilder/weightlifter?" If you were to use any ONE protein source then I would have to say that it's a toss up between a soy isolate and a whey ISOLATE. WPC provides a good protein; however the accompanying fat and carbs is something you do not want. If I had my choice, I would pick a soy isolate. A soy isolate is VERY cheap, has the highest score on the PCDAAS, is very soluble if instantized, is extremely bland (a good thing), IMPROVES kidney function (unlike any other protein), is anticarcinogenic, is anti-estrogenic, lowers LDL (bad) and raises HDL (good) cholesterol, IMPROVES THYROID FUNCTION, etc, etc-the list goes on and on. I would definitely stay away from casein and egg-white. Casein has been shown to have detrimental effects on a person's cholesterol profile and egg-white protein tastes poorly, is expensive, and consists of about 10% carbohydrates. I would have to say that the way to go is a 50/50 mixture of a whey protein ISOLATE and a soy protein isolate. Both of these proteins have certain characteristics that the other one doesn't. By combining the 2, a product could be developed that was very moderately priced with the highest PDCAAS score, with no carbs or fats, with a significant amount of glutamine and BCAAs, with immune stimulating, naturally occurring peptides, with anticarcinogenic properties, with anti-estrogenic qualities, which improves kidney function, which stimulates thyroid function (significantly), and which mixes instantly and tastes great. Tell me, how can this be beat? Unfortunately, at this time, there is no such animal in the protein supplementation market.
As a final note, please be sure that any protein you purchase is instantized. This means that the protein will mix easily into a liquid like milk without clumping and sitting on top. Instantization is worth its weight in gold as it prevents one from having to use a blender in order to dissolve the protein into the liquid. Manufacturers/processors use 2 methods to instantize. One is agglomeration which is the process of creating larger and more irregular shaped particles. This will allow the liquid to "penetrate" the protein powder, thus preventing clumping. The other method is to lecithinate the powder. With this process, lecithin is sprayed onto the particles of protein. Lecithin, being an outstanding emulsifier, will greatly decrease the surface tension between the liquid and the protein, thus allowing the protein to easily dissolve. The best products on the market are both agglomerated and lecithinated.
I can't stress enough that everyone NEEDS to read the nutritional specifications on the back of the label. This is where you can decipher (hopefully, if it's truthful) if the product is a WPC or an isolate. From what I have seen, whey isolates will sell for $40.00 or more retail for a kilogram(about 2 pounds). I truly believe that with all of the scamming going on right now in the whey market, I would be inclined to purchase an instantized soy protein isolate. Right now, soy protein is "out" with very few claims about it. I believe, at this time, you have a better chance of getting what you pay for with soy than with whey. Currently, Syntrax Innovations carries the only totally instantized soy ISOLATE in the industry. It is agglomerated and lecithinated, tastes great, and is naturally sweetened. (You can contact this company by calling (888) 321-BFIT or go to their website at www.syntrax.com).
Scott Murdoch, Ph.D., R.D. is professor of nutrition at Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington, a naturopathic physician training university, and a widely respected expert in the field of applied athletic nutrition. In this interview, Dr. Murdoch answers questions regarding protein utilization and maximization posed by max Muscle editor Mike Falcon. Dr. Murdoch's responses represent a consistent, strong, and rational voice for The Protein Bible, Book I.
MM: One of the precursors of
this interview was seeing Peter Lemon's research about recommended protein
intake (see Lemon interview, page 60). In looking over a variety of articles
in a number of journals, it seem to me that his work is often used and
applied selectively: Whatever the argument, Lemon's works would be bent
to accommodate the writer's beliefs...
How Much Protein per Meal?
MM: Which would explain why
someone would want to pull him into their theses. But I've seen a range
of figures both high and low that tax my imagination: Even
Lemon can't figure out where they come from, but the most interesting
is how much protein you can ingest at one sitting that can be assimilated.
I keep hearing ranges from 25 to 42 grams per meal. Lemon wasn't familiar
with the research, such as it may be, but guessed that it was based on
mathematical models, taking daily protein use "backwards." Most
of the studies I've seen are in vitro (test tube, in aqueous solution)
studies. The variables that other researchers say make this a difficult
number to pin down include the various sizes of people, their ability
to produce the digestive enzymes, their own unique profiles, and whether
or not they attenuate or increase their ability to digest after exposure
to large amounts of protein over a period of time.
So you have 2 questions going on: 1) Is it all being absorbed or is some of it going out through the stool; 2) If it is all being absorbed then I guarantee you the excess is going out in the urine. So, what you have is a detrimental situation for these athletes, because all that extra amino acid cannot be stores. There are small pools that can be stored, but not large amounts. As a result it's very toxic and they have to get rid of it. It's unlike any of the other macro-nutrients; they have to get rid of that nitrogen waste product. If they don't get rid of it they'll run into all kinds of problems down the road. They'll stress their body's functioning capacity which could be detrimental to their performance if there's an exercise component to the outcome.
Anabolic Steroids & Protein Assimilation
MM: What about athletes who
have shortened their recovery times through androgens, prohormones, or
straight-out anabolic steroids?
Staving Off Catabolism
MM: Peter Lemon said pretty
much the same thing: I think what happens, when bodybuilders take massive
amounts of protein, is that they're hoping as they do with many
of the things they ingest to stave off catabolism. They arise at
2 or 3 in the morning to take a protein shake.
Selecting Quality Whey Protein
What should you look for in a quality whey protein drink? What is the difference between why and whey protein concentrate? What is ion exchange? Ultrafiltration? Microfiltration? Is it possible to get quality product at an economical price? What does all the verbiage in advertisements mean? How do you find quality in a marketplace overloaded with marketing tactics?
These are just a few of the questions about whey and whey products that I have been asked in the past few weeks. The following information will answer these questions and, hopefully, help you in your search for quality whey proteins.
Let's start from scratch. In order to do that, we must first discuss the origin of whey, which is the by-product of the cheese-making process. Cheese is made from milk and is basically made up of protein, fat, and minerals. The cheese-making process involves pasteurizing raw milk and placing it into a silo containing bacteria or inoculate. The bacteria reacts with the milk causing it to curdle. This product is then transported to special heating vats containing heating elements and cutting knives. Inoculated milk is cooked, causing hard curd to form. There are also other processes to making cheese fat-free.
Whey comes from cheese plants in a condensed, liquid form. If whey is not handled properly from the cheese plant, protein denaturalization or bacteria problems may occur. Some plants have been known to add sodium diacitate or other agents to whey so they can be sold for a market price. If it were dried at this pint, it would only average about 11% protein and 61% lactose. Drying facilities need to perform full microbiological evaluations on liquid whey to insure high quality. Buyer beware! If you are purchasing straight whey and think you're saving big money, you're not. This "economical" product is most likely low in protein and high in lactose.
After whey is shipped from cheese plants to a drying facility, it is processed. Whey protein concentrate is defined as product obtained by the removal or separation of water, lactose and/or minerals from whey through a variety of available processes. The most common processes include ultrafiltration, ion exchange, and microfiltration. In describing these processes, a variety of terms are often used: Microfiltration is a pressure driven membrane separation process using porous membranes with cut off pore sizes in the regions of microns. To minimize the formation of deposit layers, the fluid flow is erratic to the membrane, which is generally termed as "cross flow" filtration. Ultrafiltration is one of 4 main processes that use membranes to separate particles based on pore size. The verbiage used in may ads contain terms like cross flow and microfiltration. The main question is, do they indicate quality? The answer is not necessarily yes. Read on!
Ultrafiltration is a separation method that in which pressurized solution flows over a porous membrane. Small molecules are permitted to pass throughout the membrane. Proteins are retained by the membrane to form concentrated levels. Several years ago, plants using ultrafiltration were processing one batch at a time. Today the plants are using multiple stage ultrafiltration processes, utilizing a re-circulation pump. This can relate to drying efficiencies after using multiple stage ultrafiltration. The greater the number of stages, the higher the solids. Some plants have up to 15 stages.
What do these processes mean to body building protein supplements? There are many processes to create whey protein concentrate, and as far as quality is concerned, there are more factors revolving around the handling of the whey between cheese plant and drying plant. If the drying plant is using quality whey and updated equipment you will most likely be buying a quality product. Factors that will equal poor quality are: 1. Improper handling; 2. Overheating particles; 3. High bacteria equipment; 4. Additions to whey for stabilized pH.
Here are some basic buying tips to use for your protein selections:
1. Don't be fooled by labeling. The amino acid profile is important, as protein is made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. Amino acids are the building blocks. Key amino acids are important for muscle growth, such as lysine, methionine, and glutamate. To determine if you are getting value, break down the label as follows: take the serving size in ounces and divide it by the grams of protein per serving. This will tell you the protein percentage of the product. Cost should be determined by price per gram of protein, and/or per gram of additives (such as creatine). Remember: When purchasing products containing additives, make sure and determine if it is more economical to purchase quality additives such as creatine in individual units. Does the time and effort you save in adding your own creatine, for example, offset the additional cost? If so, you should consider the savings. Always make sure you are buying quality! You can purchase quality whey protein at economical prices!!
2. Good protein products do not have to awful to be good. Whey protein concentrate in raw form has a bland taste. There are natural ways to make it taste great.
3. Use products made by honest, ethical companies who have the consumer's better interests as their motivation to be in business.
It would be difficult to find a better source of protein than a high quality whey protein concentrate. In my opinion, whey protein is the best source of protein for lean mass gains. People with average builds are using whey protein concentrate to make excellent gains. Use a quality product...make sure you are purchasing whey protein concentrate.
Everything You Wanted To Know
About Protein But Were Afraid to Ask
Dr. Lester L. Lee, Pharm D., M.D., and a Diplomate of the American Board of Sports medicine and, is a monthly contributor to Max Muscle. As a medical advisor to the U.S. Olympic Committee, and a member of their testing procedures team, he is at the forefront of sports medicine and regularly treats and advises world-class athletes, from bodybuilding to volleyball. He is a principal in Arista Medical in Huntington Beach, California.
Question #1: I've heard that your stomach should be empty before you eat again so that digestive enzymes have a full change to replenish. Is that true? How does protein actually get digested and turn into muscle? In answer to the first part of question #1 not true. In answer to the second part of your question, a bit of discussion on protein and amino acids is in order. Amino acids are the chemical units or "building blocks" that make up proteins. Proteins are a necessary part of every living cell in the body. The enzymes and hormones that catalyze and regulate all bodily processes are proteins. Proteins help to regulate the body water balance and maintain a proper internal pH. Proteins are chained amino acids linked together by what are called peptide bonds. Each individual type of protein is composed of a specific group of amino acids in a specific chemical arrangement. It is the particular amino acids present and the way in which they are linked together in sequence that gives the proteins that make up the various tissues their unique functions and characters.
The proteins that make up the human body are not obtained directly from the diet. Rather, dietary protein is broken down into its constituent amino acids, which the body then uses to build the specific protein that it needs. Thus, it is the amino acids rather than protein that are the essential nutrients. Processes of assembling amino acids to make proteins, and breaking down proteins into individual amino acids for the body to use, are continuous ones. When we need more enzyme proteins, the body produces more enzyme proteins; when we need more cells, the body produces more proteins for cells. These different types of proteins are produced as the need arises.
There are approximately 28 commonly known amino acids that are combined in various ways to create the hundreds of different types of proteins present in all living things. In the human body, the liver produces about 80% of the amino acids needed. The remaining 20% must be obtained from the diet. These are called the "essential amino acids." The nonessential amino acids can be manufactured in the body from other amino acids obtained from dietary sources. The fact that they are termed "nonessential" does not mean they are not necessary, only that they need not be obtained through diet because the body can manufacture them as needed. Proteins are digested by multiple enzymes in the intestine and are converted to muscle tissue by process that will be discussed in the following question.
Question #2: Does taking testosterone boosters make more protein get absorbed?Consuming testosterone enhancers or boosters does not actually enhance the absorption of protein. Testosterone is the primary sex hormone found in men. It is produced primarily by the testes and controls a great number of metabolic functions. It is an androgen, which stimulates growth and tissues in which it acts, one of them being muscle. Testosterone has anabolic and androgenic affects. The anabolic effects are isolated to be the ones which affect muscle tissue directly.
The steroid testosterone exists as a molecule being carried through the entire body via the blood stream. The steroid molecules exist in the blood along with countless others, all of them have a message to deliver. Each message is meant to be delivered to specific areas. These areas have receptor sites for that certain molecule. Sites that get a message from a steroid molecule include: Skeletal muscles cells, hair follicles, sebaceous glands, certain areas of the brain, and certain endocrine glands. In other words, these areas have an affinity for the steroid molecule. Once a receptor steroid complex is formed, it travels to the center of the cell or the nucleus. It then binds to nuclear DNA, (the deoxyribonucleic acid) and the process of transcription is amplified. As a result of this process, messenger RNA (ribonucleic acid) that has been formed, leaves the nucleus and binds to RNA in the cytoplasm of the cell and transcription of messenger RNA takes place, allowing for protein synthesis to occur. This increase in protein synthesis provides protein molecules which are then used to increase the size and strength of a skeletal muscle cell. The skeletal muscle now exists in an enhanced state, above its maintenance level. To maintain its condition, pure stimulation (resistance training) of the muscles similar to that which originally allowed the muscle to grow is required.
The cycle of protein in the body is constantly revolving. The amount of protein synthesized is roughly equal to the amount broken down which creates the metabolic process of renewing old tissue. Enhanced/elevated levels of testosterone override this principal and make it possible for the muscle to exist in an enhanced state for prolonged periods of time.
Another process that occurs with elevated levels of testosterone is its influence on muscle cells, and that is of increased nitrogen retention of the muscle. Nitrogen is a component of protein. When more nitrogen is being held than released by the muscle, it is then a positive nitrogen balance state. This condition is synonymous with enhanced muscle growth. This retention of nitrogen is actually a sign that muscle tissue is being deposited.
Question #3: I know that some bodybuilders eat late at night, but they take only protein powder and water. Sometimes they even get up in the middle of the night to eat protein. What are the reasons for this? The harder and more intensely you train, the more important dietary protein becomes to maximize the muscle/building process. For the intense bodybuilder/weight lifter, I recommend a protein intake of 2 grams per kilogram of quality protein per day. In other words, if you weigh 220 pounds (100 kilograms) your protein needs would be upwards of 200 grams of protein per day, in 5 or 6 divided doses.
In addition to providing muscles with the important amino acids for growth, protein also has a significant effect on insulin stability and energy levels. If you consume protein with each meal, your body sugar level will fluctuate far less. Not only does this factor aid in controlling your appetite, it also provides a consistent environment for greater fat loss. It is a well documented fact that consuming diets too high in carbohydrates causes blood sugar levels to constantly fluctuate. Part of this has to do with the fact that there are certain amino acids and protein in carbohydrate foods that act as "mood altering" neurotransmitters, specifically tryptophan and tyrosine.
It is extremely impractical to consume large quantities of protein from whole-food sources for a multitude of reasons (guess them). In order to consume 200 or more grams of whole-food protein a day, one would have to be consuming large quantities of meat hourly. Not only is this impractical and inconvenient, it would also churn your stomach. Also, to consume that great proportion of meat would produce a significant amount of residue in your colon (i.e. poop). On a gram-per-gram basis, protein powders are far less expensive than meat.
Not having an abundant supply of all of the important amino acids during the post-workout recovery period could cripple ones body ability to recover and grow. A good time to have a protein supplement is late in the evening. Consuming a late night or early morning protein drink significantly improves protein metabolism and aides in preventing the protein breakdown that occurs naturally while you sleep. Scientific evidence supports the fact that maintaining high levels of branch chain amino acids (as found in whey protein) in the bloodstream actually prevents a large percentage of typical overnight protein breakdown (catabolism). This cycle of feeding (during the daytime) and fasting (at night while one slumbers) results in gains and losses of body protein. For bodybuilders, this natural building up and taking down process is counterproductive to muscle development. For the "compulsive" bodybuilder, consuming protein before you sleep, as soon as you wake up, and even in the middle of night is a possible mechanism of retarding protein wasting.
When taking amino acids individually for healing purposes, take them on an empty stomach to avoid making them compete for absorption with amino acids present in foods. When taking individual amino acids, it is best to take them in the morning or between meals, with small amounts of vitamin B6 and vitamin C to enhance absorption. When taking an amino acid complex that includes all of the essential amino acids, it is best to take it one-half hour away from a meal, either before or after.
Question #4: I'm a vegetarian and I keep on seeing all sorts of information about amino acids balancing. Do I want to take into a combination of vegetable protein sources to create some sort of balance? Is the goal the same balance of amino acids we have in our muscles? Vegetarians, especially vegans, would be wise to take a form containing all of the essential acids to ensure that their protein requirements are met. Current research supports the notion that by eating a variety of legumes (nuts), as well as all other food groups throughout the day, one can obtain the full array of essential amino acids required for efficient protein metabolism.
A complete protein provides the proper balance of all 8 essential amino acids that build tissue and are found in foods of animal origin such as cheese, poultry, meat, eggs and seafood. Incomplete protein lacks one or more of the essential amino acids; foods such as seeds, nuts, grains, beans and some vegetables are in this category.
Soybeans, however, do contain all of the essential amino acids and are recognized as a complete protein. There are some advantages and disadvantages with soybeans as your source of protein. They have a significant amount of fat, though it is mostly unsaturated. Soybeans, are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to help reduce breast cancer and prostate cancer as well as being a good source of fiber. The disadvantages arise when comparing the biological value of protein sources. Not all proteins are created equal. Scientists measure the quality of a protein by subtracting the amount of protein lost in urine and feces from the amount consumed. The remainder of the protein is retained by the body and then can be used for muscle and connective tissue development, enzyme formation, and nutrient storage among other purposes. This measurement is described as the biological value of the protein. When this form of measurement first began, the whole egg was at the top of the chart with a value of 100, thus, all other proteins fell below this core. With the present day technology of high quality whey protein such as Max Whey protein, scores over the 100 mark have been achieved. So vegetarians need to consume a wide variety of vegetable and whole grain sources to complete all of the essential amino acid requirements.
Question #5: Nobody seems to be drinking milk anymore at my gym. Not even skim milk. Isn't non-fat milk one of the best protein sources? Why don't guys at my gym want to drink milk? Milk (lactose) is very difficult to digest. For those individuals who lack the enzyme lactase, milk and milk by-products can lead to gastrointestinal disturbances such as flatulence, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. With the wide array of quality proteins now on the market, it is much simpler to consume a higher quality protein that is easier on the digestive system. Also, as previously noted on the biological value of protein chart, cows milk has an BV value of 91 and casein only has a BV value of 77. With the present day technology of high quality whey protein and protein isolate blends, it is much more convenient if not efficient to consume a protein drink.
Question #6: I want to take in a lot more protein than I have been, but I can't eat 6 meals a day because of my work schedule. Can I eat larger meals and take digestive enzymes instead? Please refer to my discussion in question #3.
Question #7: Is there any advantage to animal-based proteins like whey or egg over vegetable- based proteins like soy and wheat? Please refer to my discussion to question #4 above. As I mentioned previously, vegetarians need to consume a wide variety of all vegetable and whole grain sources to complete their essential amino acid requirements. For example, if an athlete chooses a complete protein of soy products, taking into the consideration of a biological values of only 74 or only 54 in the case of wheat, the athlete must consume a far greater amount of vegetable protein to equal the benefits of animal protein. The unfortunate consequence of this diet, is the athlete now runs into the problem of too much starchy carbohydrates and fat in the diet. This leads to too much bulk and residue produced in the digestive system.
Question #8: Do women absorb or use protein differently than men? Do they need the same amount of protein as men do? Male and female athletes utilize and absorb protein in a similar fashion. The efficiency of protein as an "anabolic agent" is determined by testosterone, either endogenously (produce your own) or pharmacologically enhanced. This question was partially answered as in my discussion in question #2 above. Building muscle requires a vigorous strength training program. It takes tremendous energy to feed this type of exercise. A high-carbohydrate diet allows for the greatest recovery of muscle glycogen stored on a daily basis, enabling the muscles to work equally hard on successive days. Furthermore, studies done with strength-trained athletes such as wrestlers and power lifters have shown that subjects who consume a hypo energetic high-carbohydrate diet are better able to maintain exercise performance than athletes consuming hypo energetic moderate-carbohydrate diet.
Many athletes assume that protein is the most important nutrient for accrual of muscle mass; however, we often lose site that the best way to accumulate protein is to simply increase energy intake (carbohydrates). For any given protein intake, increasing total energy intake will improve nitrogen retention. When energy is performed, the improvement in nitrogen retention is accomplished by increasing energy intake is magnified. Conversely, if energy is not supplied in adequate amounts, the protein consumed will be used as an energy source, and not as a means of increasing muscle mass. Energy and protein intake interact such that protein needs are greater when energy intake is reduced.
Do women need the same amount of protein as men do? This depends on the woman's physical or metabolic needs. If individuals who have higher protein needs because they are growing, e.g., children, adolescence, and/or women who are pregnant; or those whose diets may be inadequate, e.g., dieters, vegetarians and/or the elderly, begin a regular exercise program, an even greater intake of protein may be necessary.
Question #9: I'm 50 years old but still workout regularly. Do I have different protein needs than younger men? If so, how do they differ? Assuming that there is no compromise to either the kidney or liver systems of either work out groups, protein requirements for athletes in both age groups if they are working out intensively is the same.
Question #10: Can I use protein for energy? What happens if I cut my fats and carbs to nothing. In response to the first part of the question, why would you want to? Not only would utilizing protein as a sole source of energy contribute to muscle wasting, but also would place you into a ketotic state (acidosis). If I were to ask a number of world experts in the area of exercise physiology what the single most important nutritional factor affecting muscle gain would be? The answer: Total dietary energy, specifically carbohydrate energy (i.e., Carbomax). As I discussed in question #8 above, it takes a tremendous amount of energy to fuel muscle growth. A high-carbohydrate diet allows for the greatest recovery of muscle glycogen stored on a daily basis. The best way to accumulate protein is to simply increase energy intake. Again, for any given protein intake, increasing total energy intake will improve significantly nitrogen retention. If energy is not supplied in adequate amounts, the protein consumed will be used as an energy source, and not as a means of increasing muscle mass. Branch chain amino acids (valine, leucine, isoleucine) are used directly for fuel by muscles, and that may spare other amino acids from being catabolized. However, this is not an effective nor efficient way of utilizing branch chain amino acids.
Significantly decreasing fats and carbohydrates in diet have traditionally been utilized by bodybuilders before a contest. This aids in obtaining the hard "cut" look, since fats and carbohydrates tend to be hygroscopic (water retaining); however, this diet approach is only performed a short time prior to the contest.