Buckle your seat belts and pull out your pocket protectors: We’re going full nutrition-nerd today, talking about the role of dietary protein in maximizing muscle protein synthesis. But don’t assume that this is only of interest to body-builders! Applying these insights to your daily meals can have a monumental impact on your ability to maintain a healthy body weight, age successfully, and bounce back from illness and injury.
In a previous episode on preventing age-related muscle loss, I explained that you can get more protein benefit without eating more protein, simply by distributing your protein more evenly over the course of the day. Since then, I’ve heard from many of you asking how to adapt this advice to various situations and dietary patterns—such as those that are lower in protein.
I recently attended a meeting with some of the world’s top protein researchers and in between sessions I hit them up for their insights on the questions you’ve raised. I’ve got some great new information to share with you but first, let’s back up and talk muscle protein synthesis.
How does your body make muscle?
Building and repairing muscle tissue requires protein—and that’s a nutrient that our bodies have to use as it comes in; we can’t store it for future use. Whenever we eat foods containing protein, we get a little burst of muscle-building activity. The amount of muscle you build is dependent on the amount of protein you take in at that meal. Eat a little protein, build a little muscle. Take in more protein, build more muscle...but only up to a point.