A firm, healthy, muscular body is a joy to have and a pleasant site to behold. A good exercise program and a healthy diet can go a long way toward giving us the ingredients we need for strong muscles and stamina.
Our muscles are made up of bundles of flexible cells and fibers that can be contracted and expanded to produce our body movements. As amino acids are the basic building blocks of protein, our bodies make use of these acids to make the proteins it needs to accumulate muscle tissue.
Protein plays a very versatile role in the body. It is used to form strong muscles, bones and teeth. It is used to make hormones and enzymes, to strengthen the immune system, and to carry oxygen to the cells. Amino acids that form protein are classed as either essential or non-essential. There are about 28 known amino acids, of which the body can make only 19. The remaining nine “essential” ones must be supplied by our food.
When we perform regular exercise, our protein requirements and demands are increased as our muscles utilize amino acids as fuel. Its a good idea to ensure the body has all the necessary amino acids when you are working to build muscle. Scientific tests have shown that when strength trainers and endurance athletes consume more amino acids, they increase the manufacture of protein for use in the body (1,2,4).
The Journal of Sports Science reported that endurance athletes who trained at moderate intensity for more than 100 minutes, had a marked increase in protein breakdown unless they consumed an amount of protein in proportion to their lean body mass (3).
Animal products such as lean meat, poultry, fish and eggs provide good high-quality protein that is complete in all the essential amino acids. Soy products are also a top quality source of protein as soy is nutritionally equivalent to the protein from animal sources.
To support your body and muscles while exercising regularly, you can make good use of protein supplements that come in many forms. There are powdered protein drinks and shakes, chewable protein wafers, protein tablets and liquids, as well as protein cookies.
Some of the most popular forms of supplements are made from whey protein and soy protein. Whey is made from the by-products of cheese production, and is often called “designer protein” or a “designer formula”, as the protein elements in it are isolated and concentrated. Whey products provide a form of protein that's easily absorbed by the body.
Soy protein has been used to help athletic performance. Soy protein products may be especially beneficial for people with milk allergies or intolerances. A study from a Romanian journal found that two months of supplementation with an isolated soy protein product resulted in increased lean body mass and strength and a reduction in fatigue (5).
Protein packs a powerful punch and it can give you the power to build strong muscles!
1.Fern EB, Bielinski RN, Schultz Y: Effects of exaggerated amino acid and protein supply in man. Experimentia 1991;47(2):168-172
2.Lemon PW, Tarnopolsky MA, MacDougall JD, et al: Protein requirements, muscle mass/strength changes during intensive training in novice bodybuilders. J Appl Physiol 1992;73(2):767-775
3.Lemon PW: Effect of exercise on protein requirements. J Sports Sci 1991;9(special):53-70
4.Gontzen I, Sutzecu P, Dumitrache S: The influence of muscular activity on the nitrogen balance and on the need of man for proteins. Nutr Rep Int 1974;10:35-43
5. Rev Roum Physiol, 1992