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t is important to consider nutrition as an influential part of an FUELING FOR MUSCLE GROWTH
overall workout program. Spending hours in the gym will not It may be useful to think of each entire day’s nutrient intake as
always equate to muscle gains without proper pre- and post- preparation for the next workout. Several studies have shown
workout fuel. Muscle growth is a delicate balance between protein that protein, or protein in combination with carbohydrates in
synthesis and protein breakdown that requires sustaining an close temporal proximity to RE, stimulates greater MPS than
adequate amount of macronutrients and micronutrients to meet carbohydrates alone (3,7,13). Specifically, a 2006 study that
the demands of each individual. The purpose of this article is to compared supplementation of 20 g of protein versus 20 g of
provide knowledge about nutritional intake (focusing on protein dextrose (i.e., carbohydrate) one hour before and one hour after
and carbohydrates), in tandem with a workout program, which RE showed greater upregulation of MPS markers in the group that
may help in achieving muscle growth. consumed the protein supplement (13).

THE SCIENCE BEHIND MUSCLE GROWTH The recovery phase and protein’s effect on anabolic responses
Resistance exercise (RE) naturally leads to the breakdown of throughout the entire day was addressed by a 2013 study. In this
muscle fibers and puts the body into a state of catabolism (7). The study, three groups of eight men consumed 80 g of whey protein
process of catabolism allows for the subsequent repair and growth over a 12-hr recovery period. They did so in one of three ways:
of that muscle tissue (anabolism) via muscle protein synthesis either in eight doses of 10 g every 1.5 hours, four doses of 20 g
(MPS). Although MPS is stimulated after RE, protein balance every six hours, or two doses of 40 g every six hours. All dosing
remains negative and adequate nutrient intake is necessary to methods stimulated MPS rates; however, the most effective dose
achieve a positive protein balance and muscle growth (2,7). Net was four doses of 20 g of whey protein every six hours (1). A
muscle protein balance is a simple equation; if the body has 2009 study looking at young, healthy males found that about
enough protein to repair the damaged tissue, it is able to support 20 g of high-quality protein is sufficient to maximize RE induced
muscle growth. Since net protein balance will remain negative MPS over four hours post-exercise (11). These studies highlight
after RE, this net balance must become positive following exercise the importance of protein intake after working out and consistent
so that the rate of synthesis can exceed the breakdown in order to intake of protein throughout the day.
promote MPS (7).



It is recommended to aim for 15 – 20% of all daily calories to REFERENCES

come from high-quality protein sources. Table 1 provides a variety 1. Areta, JL, Burke, LM, Ross ML, Camera, DM, West, DW, Broad,
of protein sources including their biological value (BV), which EM, et al. Timing and distribution of protein ingestion during
determines how efficiently protein leads to MPS once absorbed prolonged recovery from resistance exercises alter myofibrillar
(5,12). It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics protein synthesis. The Journal of Physiology 59(1): 2319-2331, 2013.
that in order to build muscle mass, individuals should consume
2. Borsheim, E, Tipton, K, and Wolf, S. Essential amino acids
1.2 – 1.7 g/kg of bodyweight per day of protein (9). The list below
and muscle protein recovery from resistance exercise. American
demonstrates an example of how an athlete can consume about
Journal of Physiology Endocrine and Metabolism 283(4):
90 g of protein throughout the day (a sufficient amount for a
E648-E657, 2002.
150-lb male whose protein needs are approximately 81 – 116 g of
protein per day) (9). 3. Cribb, PJ, and Hayes, A. Effects of supplement timing and
resistance exercise on skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Medicine and
• 2 cups of fat-free milk = 16 g Science in Sports Exercise 38(11): 1918-1925, 2006.
• 8 oz of plain low-fat yogurt = 12 g 4. Escott-Stump, S. Nutrition and Diagnosis-Related Care.
• 1 tablespoon of peanut butter = 7 g Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams and
• 3 oz of baked chicken = 26 g Wilkins; 2008.
• 3 oz of grilled salmon = 21 g
• 1 cup of quinoa = 8 g 5. Hoffman, JR, and Falvo, MJ. Protein – which is best? Journal of
Sports Science and Medicine 3(3): 118-130, 2004.
CARBOHYDRATES 6. Hulmi, JJ, Kovanen, V, Selänne, H, Kraemer, WJ, Häkkinen,
Carbohydrates should comprise about 50 – 60% of the daily K, and Mero, AA. Acute and long-term effects of resistance
caloric intake, or about 2.3 – 3.6 g/kg of bodyweight (6). Powering exercise with or without protein ingestion on muscle hypertrophy
through workouts depends on available glycogen stores. It is and gene expression. Amino Acids 37(2): 297-308, 2009.
important to replenish these stores immediately before and after
7. Ivy, JL, and Ferguson, LM. Optimizing resistance exercise
a workout to allow for glycogen resynthesis and optimal MPS. The
adaptations through the timing of post-exercise carbohydrate-
consumption of carbohydrates alone is not considered an ideal
protein supplementation. Strength and Conditioning Journal 32(1):
meal post-RE but it is a vital component because, as previously
30-36, 2010.
stated, it has been shown that consumptions of carbohydrates in
combination with protein stimulates MPS more than carbohydrates 8. Ivy, JL, Goforth, HW, Jr, Damon, BM, McCauley, TR, Parsons,
alone (3,7,13). EC, and Price, TB. Early post-exercise muscle glycogen recovery
is enhanced with a carbohydrate-protein supplement. Journal of
A common approach includes eating carbohydrates and protein in Applied Physiology 93(4): 1337-1344, 2002.
a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio. When eaten together, protein slows the digestion 9. Kohn, J. Strength building and muscle mass. Eat Right.
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transfer of macronutrients to muscle cells (4). recovery/building-muscle/strength-building-and-muscle-mass.
10. McGlory, C, Wardle, SL, and Macnaughton, LS. Pattern of
protein ingestion to maximize protein synthesis after resistance
A well-balanced nutritional intake that is rich in high-quality
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protein and carbohydrates can support muscle growth and the
maintenance of lean body mass. It is also important to consume 11. Moore, DR, Ribinson, MJ, Fry, JL, Tang, JE, Glover, EI,
protein and carbohydrates together following RE to stimulate Wilkinson, SB, et al. Ingested protein dose response of muscle and
optimal MPS. albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men.
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it important? Fooducate. 2014. Retrieved March 2015 from http://
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477, 2006.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR Laura Halupowski is a fitness, nutrition, and food enthusiast who
Debra Wein is a nationally recognized expert on health and completed her Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition at the
wellness. She has nearly 20 years of experience working in the University of New Hampshire. Halupowski plans to combine her
health and wellness industry and has designed award-winning passion for wellness, nutrition, and culinary skills as a Registered
programs for both individuals and corporations across the country. Dietitian to provide comprehensive education and coaching
She is President and founder of Wellness Workdays, (www. services to those looking to improve their overall health and state a leading provider of worksite wellness of mind.
programs. Wein is also the Program Director of the Wellness
Workdays Dietetic Internship, the only worksite wellness-focused
internship for dietetics students interested in becoming Registered
Dietitians that is approved by the Accreditation Council for
Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).



Eggs 6 g (each) 100 Readily utilizable protein

1% milk (1 cup) 8g 91 Calcium and vitamin D

Low-fat cottage cheese (½

14 g 84 Calcium and vitamin D

Tuna (3 oz/85 g) 24 g 83 Heart healthy fats and vitamin D

Quinoa (1 cup) 8g 83 Gluten-free, easy to digest, fiber, magnesium, and iron

Plain yogurt (½ cup) 7g 68 Healthy probiotics

Chicken breast (2.8 oz/79 g) 26 g 79 Lower in fat than other meats

Contains all essential amino acids, rich in vitamins

Tofu (½ cup) 10 g 74
and minerals, and low in fat

Brown rice (1 cup) 4g 59 Rich in fiber and minerals

Beans (1 cup) 15 g 58 Healthy source of fiber and rich in minerals

Oatmeal (1 cup) 13 g 55 Soluble fibers may help in lowering cholesterol

Excellent bioavailability and it may lead to

Whey (1 scoop) 25 g 104
rapid protein synthesis

Casein (1 scoop) 24 g 77 Allows for a slow sustained release of amino acids