Muscle building is not just for the bodybuilder or athletes. We should all be interested in the amount of muscle mass we have because it’s important for overall health, for our immune system and for how much fat we’ll burn on a daily basis—yes, muscle burns fat!
For muscle growth to happen (muscle hypertrophy), your body depends on protein synthesis. Not only does protein synthesis have to occur, but it has to exceed protein breakdown. Protein breakdown occurs continuously as a normal biological process—after exercise, in particular, there is an increase in this breakdown called catabolism. Unfortunately, breakdown on a daily basis accelerates as we grow older. So, to increase muscle mass—and we’re really concerned with skeletal muscle mass—there are a few hurdles we must consider.
First, we know the best way to create muscle growth is to be in an “anabolic” state—that means providing our muscles with an environment to grow! Resistance exercise (weight lifting) is by far the most effective way to stimulate hypertrophy. But is that it? No! In the absence of food we would not overcome the negative protein balance—the interaction of exercise and nutrients on muscle protein metabolism is the key to success.
Amino acids must be available to the muscles to give them the building blocks for making protein. We must have these amino acids available at the right time for protein synthesis. In fact, one amino acid, leucine, can stimulate synthesis independent of its structural role. To maximize muscle protein anabolism, then, we know that resistance exercise results in a positive protein balance when food intake follows within a few hours after exercising. This is prime time anabolism!
The type of protein consumed does affect outcome, according to recent evidence. We know that digestive properties of proteins will influence the time it takes to break down (digest) the protein for absorption of amino acids to reach the blood stream.
Dairy proteins casein and whey each present properties that can serve muscle growth. Casein clots in the stomach and slowly releases into the small intestine where absorption of amino acids and peptides occur. Whey proteins and other proteins are still soluble in the stomach (low acid and watery environment) and are quickly released into the small intestine where they are digested and absorbed. The whey amino acids, then, will appear faster than casein and be available for muscle protein synthesis. Casein will digest slower and appear in the blood later keeping blood levels of amino acids elevated.
At the same time a unique stimulus is occurring. Whey proteins have the highest levels of branched-chain amino acids (isoleucine, leucine, and valine) than any other protein source. This is a key differentiating attribute of whey that provides another trigger for protein synthesis to occur in muscles.
Basic knowledge of protein make-up, digestion and ability to stimulate protein synthesis in muscles has been the cornerstone of Isagenix IsaLean Shake formulations. We’ve combined the best physiological attributes of whey and casein proteins to synergistically maximize the ability to increase muscle mass.
Understanding the ability of dietary proteins to increase satiety—feelings of fullness—provides further benefits of the IsaLean Shake, but that’s for another article. Stay tuned!