Fitness Tips: Nutrition Focus

Are protein supplements helpful for people who want to gain muscle mass?

Our body mass is about 45% muscle. You can optimize the strength and size of those muscles with moderate to high intensity resistance exercises like lifting weights. Whether you are doing this to rehabilitate an injury or enhance athletic performance, to see and feel results you need to target each muscle group two to three days a week with eight to 10 exercises. Each repetition requires a training intensity of at least 65% of your one-repetition maximum. That means if the most you can bench press once is 100 pounds, you do repetitions with 65 pounds.

HOW DO SUPPLEMENTS FIT IN?The body needs sufficient protein and nutrition to maximize results during exercise.
To realize the full potential of your exercise regimen, you need to maximize muscle protein synthesis, which is how the body repairs the micro tears in muscles created by exercise. It’s what makes muscles stronger and larger. To support this process, your body needs the right nutrients. Leucine is the key amino acid that enhances muscle protein synthesis. What are the best sources of leucine? One is dairy—especially whey protein. Soy is another, but one study demonstrated that less amino acid from soy is delivered to muscles.

For young, healthy individuals, 20 grams of protein is sufficient. Older adults need 40 grams. Ideally, you should ingest this “dose” as a liquid every four hours (except while you’re sleeping) for the next day. Muscle protein synthesis is occurring even 24 hours after your workout.

Manuel A. (Tony) Domenech, PT, DPT, MS, EdD, OCS, AAOMPT, directs the Doctor of Physical Therapy program on the Austin campus. He has nearly 40 years of clinical and instructional experience in hospitals, universities, and the U.S. Air Force, where he retired as a lieutenant colonel.

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