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A bout of strength training stimulates “muscle protein synthesis” (MPS), the process of assimilating amino acids into our skeletal muscle. The intake of protein in conjunction with a strength training workout further enhances MPS and prevents the breakdown and loss of our muscles. Thus, researchers are in constant pursuit of optimal post-workout protein strategies to optimize the maintenance and building of muscle.

Authors of a review article published in the journal Sports Medicine provide our current, evidence-based practices around protein intake, type, and timing.

The authors’ actionable takeaways include:
-Ingestion of 20 grams of isolated, quickly digestible protein results in a near-maximal muscle protein synthetic response at rest and post-exercise. MPS is increased an additional 10-20% when the amount of protein is doubled (40 grams).
-The ingestion of greater than 40 grams of slowly digestible protein is recommended to maximize muscle protein synthesis rates when there is a prolonged period until one’s next meal (for example, during an overnight fast).
-Recent research suggests that the MPS response to feeding may be modulated by the consumption of micronutrients. For example, the ingestion of whole eggs is more effective in stimulating post-exercise MPS rates than was the ingestion of an isonitrogenous (meaning, just the protein) amount of egg whites.

Take Home Message: There is a time for quickly digestible protein (post-workout), a slowly digested protein (before bed or a period of fasting), and protein sources that not only include an array of amino acids but micronutrients as well.

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