The importance of protein in nutrition and health cannot be over emphasised. Proteins are found throughout the body, with 40% of proteins found in skeletal muscle, 25% found in body organs and the remaining found mostly in the skin and blood. Proteins play many vital roles in the body from enzymes, hormones, structural proteins such as the ones found in muscle, immunoproteins that are essential in supporting the immune system, transport proteins that are important for carrying a variety of nutrients and oxygen in the blood, along with acting as a buffer to maintain the pH of body fluids.
When exercising, whether it is resistance or endurance, stress is placed on the body. Exercise requires the body to adapt and change in order to improve at your chosen sport. Adaptations take place at a cellular and muscular level. Structural proteins in the muscle change and develop, enzyme activity increases, there is a change in hormone response, more oxygen and nutrients need to be transported to working muscles during exercise and recovery and the immune system is also put under more stress with heavy training loads.
The point is protein plays a major role in the body to maintain life and when the body is put under further stress from exercise more protein is required no matter what type of exercise is performed. If insufficient protein is obtained from the diet, an athlete will maintain a negative nitrogen balance, which can increase protein break down and slow recovery. Over time, this may lead to muscle wasting and training intolerance. The type of exercise (resistance or endurance) will determine the adaptations of the body, and protein will only assist these.
Resistance exercise is known as a powerful stimulator of muscle growth. Numerous studies have confirmed that resistance training leads to muscle hypertrophy (growth) and increased strength. Strength gains are initially related to increased neurological function and learning how to recruit muscle fibres. After this period strength gains are related to an increase in muscle size.
Metabolic adaptations also occur with resistance training. Cellular changes occur that affect the anaerobic metabolism because resistance training primarily stresses this system. The anaerobic system consists of the phosphagen and glycolytic systems and the key enzymes involved in these systems are thought to increase.
The hypertrophic (muscle growth) response to resistance training is the net result of an increase in protein synthesis relative to protein breakdown in the muscle cell. Protein synthesis clearly increases following resistance exercise and post exercise protein consumption can further enhance muscle protein synthesis by improving the delivery of amino acids to the muscle at a time when cell signalling involved in initiating protein synthesis is most sensitive. Studies have demonstrated only essential amino acids are necessary for the stimulation of protein synthesis and delaying feeding can reduce training-induced increases in lean muscle mass. Ensuring a good quality protein supplement such as International Protein- Amino Charged WPI is consumed directly after training will enable and support muscle growth and strength development.
To get the most out of your weight training, your muscles need a constant supply of amino acids. International Protein-Protein synergy 5 provides slow, medium and fast release proteins which makes it a suitable supplement to take throughout the day or before bed to provide the essential building blocks to gain mass.
In contrast to resistance exercise, endurance training does not typically result is significant gains in muscle size. The overall adaptation to recurring endurance/aerobic exercise is one that represents a more efficient body, resulting in less effort by all organs at every possible level of exercise.
The cardiovascular system becomes more efficient through hypertrophy of the heart and the ability of the heart pump more blood with each beat. The vascular system increases in density allowing for better diffusion of oxygen and metabolites at a muscular level.
To allow the body to perform for extended periods of time at a given intensity, there are certain metabolic changes that occur. The energy systems become more efficient at producing energy and the body becomes more efficient at utilizing substrates that yield greater energy (e.g., fat). The body also becomes more efficient at storing energy supplies, such as muscle glycogen.
There is an increase in enzymes that are associated with the energy pathways used in endurance exercise (enzymes speed up reactions and without enzymes these reactions would occur too slowly for the body to function).
Cellular adaptations also take place during endurance exercise, including an increase in mitochondrial content and an increase in glucose transporters. The mitochondria are the ‘powerhouse’ of the cell as this is where
large amounts of energy (ATP) are produced. Because of the utilisation of oxygen for energy production during aerobic exercise, the body responds by increasing mitochondrial content in the muscle fibre. This increase in mitochondrial density makes production of ATP a much more efficient process.
Now you can see the adaptations to endurance exercise are very different to resistance training however, protein consumption directly post exercise is still as imperative.
All the adaptations required to improve endurance performance require essential amino acids to rebuild and repair. For example, for the blood to be efficient at transporting more iron and oxygen, transport proteins are required. To increase the oxidative capacity of the muscle essential amino acids are required for the increase in enzymes and mitochondrial proteins. A lack of protein can lead to over training syndrome and some of the symptoms include decreased performance and increased muscle soreness because the body does not have the building blocks to repair and recover from each training session. Consuming a protein supplement post workout will allow the adaptations to take place and performance to improve. International Protein- Superior Whey is a perfect post training supplement that is great quality to initiate recovery.
Protein is an extremely important macronutrient for all athletes. The type of training (resistance or endurance) determines how the body adapts, not the protein consumption. Resistance/strength athletes will support muscle hypertrophy and strength gains with a protein supplement, whilst aerobic endurance training adaptations will be aerobic in nature. The body will become more efficient at using and producing energy and a protein supplement will support this.