If you are starting to work on building your muscle, or you have been doing so for a while, you will have heard of the importance of having a high protein diet.
What is it about protein that makes it so integral to you bulking up?
What makes up muscle?
Muscles are made from muscle fibres, also known as muscle cells, which are predominantly made up of two different proteins, actin and myosin.
When you do intensive training to build muscle, you put those muscle fibres under stress. This stress causes the fibres to tear or break.
Your body then works to repair and rebuild those muscle fibres, making them stronger and more durable than before.
This is why training over a time not only causes your muscles to become stronger, but also to grow larger, because they are adapting and becoming more resistant.
What is protein?
Protein makes up a huge portion of what your body consists of, and plays an important role in almost all cell function.
It is vital for the production of blood cells and muscle cells, and can also be used as an energy source to fuel the body if other energy sources are low.
The protein you consume in food is formed from chains of amino acids bonded together, these amino acids are the basic foundation of the protein, and protein is one of the building blocks of all body tissue.
When you eat foods that contain protein, your body uses the digestion process to break down the protein into the amino acids. These amino acids are the basic building materials that form the foundation of the human body.
Though there are 20 amino acids within the body, 9 of these cannot be synthesised and must be gained from your diet. These are called the 9 essential amino acids.
It is these amino acids that are used by the body to build and repair damaged muscle fibres.
When you have a good supply of protein, which provides amino acids, you are able to build and repair stressed muscle quickly and in turn they will become stronger and more resilient than before.
Where can you get protein from?
Different food types contain different combinations of amino acids. Complete proteins contain all the 9 essential amino acids, incomplete protein only contain some of them.
If you are gaining your protein from incomplete protein sources, it is important that you combine them to ensure you are gaining all 9 of the essential amino acids.
Complete proteins are found in foods such as red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu, tempeh, soy milk and edamame.
While incomplete protein sources are found in whole grains, legumes, beans, corn, fruits, nuts and seeds.
As your body’s muscles are made up from muscle fibres that are formed from proteins, your body needs a balanced diet with a healthy protein component. This will ensure that you have enough material and fuel to repair and rebuild the muscle fibres you are damaging when undergoing intensive training.
One of the easiest ways to add protein to your diet is through the consumption of whey protein.