Any bodybuilder or athlete knows the importance of eating a sufficient amount of protein each day. Protein has a number of functions in the body: It is involved in the growth, maintenance, and repair of tissue; it helps create hemoglobin, which carries oxy-gen to cells; it is required for the formation of antibodies to ward off disease and infection; and it helps produce enzymes and hormones for the regulation of body processes. Three Classifications of Amino AcidsProtein is made up of organic com-pounds called amino acids, which are required by every metabolic process. Your body needs 22 amino acids in a certain balance to synthesize protein for muscular growth. All but eight of the amino acids can be manufactured by the body. Those eight are called “essential amino acids,” and they are supplied by animal proteins such as chicken and fish. Essential amino acids include ly-sine; methionine; phenylalanine; threonine; tryptophan; and the branched-chain aminos, isoleucine, leucine, and valine.
Foods that contain the eight essential amino acids are called “complete proteins.” Of the 22 amino acids, seven are considered “conditionally essential,” which means that under certain conditions such as extreme stress the body cannot manufacture enough of them. These amino acids include arginine, cysteine, glutamine, histidine, proline, taurine, and tyrosine . The remaining seven amino acids are termed “nonessential amino acids,” which the body makes on its own. These amino acids include alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, citruline, glutamic acid, glycine, and serine .Protein and Your MetabolismOf all foods, protein has the highest “dynamic action” on the metabolism. This describes the ability of a food to stimulate the body’s metabolic rate. All foods do this to some extent. Studies, however, have shown that a high-protein meal raises the metabolic rate more than 30 percent in a 10 to 12-hour period, whereas carbohydrates and fats increase the metabolic rate ap-proximately four percent over the same time period. This is significant, since increasing metabolism aids in fat-burning. Without enough protein in your diet, the body can-not properly drive the metabolic processes or support growth and repair.
How Much Protein Do You Need?Bodybuilders have higher-than-nor-mal requirements for protein because the muscles use more amino acids during train-ing. For most bodybuilders, strength train-ers, and other athletes, the recommended protein intake is 1.25 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. At least one gram of protein per pound of your body weight should come from complete protein sources such as lean white meat poultry, fish, egg whites, and protein supplements. The remaining should come from starchy and fibrous carbohydrates, which also contain protein. These guidelines are explained in the Parrillo Nutrition Manual™.Each meal should be structured to include a lean protein, one or two starchy carbohydrates, and one or two fibrous carbo-hydrates. This combination of foods has two important benefits: First, the protein and fi-ber slow the digestion of carbohydrates – and consequently the release of glucose – to pro-vide consistent energy levels and sustained endurance throughout the day . Second, this combination provides a constant supply of nutrients so that your body can maintain its energy, growth, and repair status.Lean proteins should be baked, broiled, microwaved, or grilled – without fats; and vegetables should be microwaved, lightly steamed, or cooked in a minimal amount of water to preserve nutrient content.
Best Sources of Supplemental Protein
While bodybuilders and athletes ob-tain their protein mostly from food, many will supplement their diets with protein in the form of protein powders or sports bars. These supplements are typically for-mulated with several high-quality proteins from animal and plant sources. Egg protein (ovalbumin), for example, is a very high grade form of supplemental protein. Its use in protein supplements has decreased some-what, however, because it is expensive and high in sodium .1Extracted from milk, caseine is an-other high-quality protein that is widely used in supplements.
You find this protein in Hi-Protein Powder™, Pro-Carb Powder™, 50-50 Plus Powder™, and Parrillo Sports Nutrition Bars™, Parrillo Protein Bars™, and Parrillo Energy Bars™.One of the highest quality protein found in protein supplements is whey pro-tein, which is a component of milk that is separated from milk to make cheese and other dairy products . Whey is among the most rapidly digested of all supplemental proteins . What this means to you is that the amino acids in whey are rapidly absorbed so that the processes of repair and growth can be accelerated.2 In addition, whey is loaded with various health-building nutrients, including B-complex vitamins, selenium, calcium, and iodine .3 Whey protein is found in the follow-ing Parrillo products: Optimized Whey Protein™, Hi-Protein Powder™, 50/50 Plus Powder™, Parrillo Sports Nutrition Bars™, Parrillo Protein Bars™, and Parrillo Energy Bars™.Soy protein is also found in numerous products on the market. However, it lacks the amino acid methionin so it doesn’t have as high a protein efficiency ratio as milk proteins .
How to Use Protein SupplementsA good time to consume any of our supplements containing these proteins – particularly those supplements that con-tain some carbohydrate too is immediately following your workout. Scientific experi-ments indicate that protein/carb supplements initiates the rapid uptake of carbs by your muscles – faster than carbs alone.4In addition, a carbohydrate/protein supplement taken following a workout stimulates the release of two hormones (insulin and growth hormone), creating an environment favorable to muscle growth and recovery.5Protein supplements play a key role in metabolism and nutrition. Used in conjunc-tion with the proper foods, they can assist in decreasing body fat, supporting muscular growth, extending endurance, and promoting better recovery and repair after training.
1. Kreider, R.B. 1999. Protein: Is it all the same? Muscular Development, December.
2. Kreider, R.B. 1999. Protein: Is it all the same? Muscular Development, December.
3. Barth, C.A., and U. Behnke. 1997. Nutritional physiology of whey and whey components. Nahrung 41: 2-12.
4. Zawadzki, K.M., Yaspelkis, BB., and J.L. Ivy. 1992. Carbohydrate-protein complex increases the rate of muscle gly-cogen storage after exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology 72: 1854-1859.
5. Chandler, R.M., Byrne, H.K., Pat-terson, J.G., and J.L. Ivy. 1994. Dietary supplements affect the anabolic hormones after weight-training exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology 76: 839-845.