Are you looking for the best ways to build muscles faster? Despite all your efforts at the gym, your muscles just aren’t bulking up?
For bigger and faster muscle gains, you need to first understand how muscles are made!
Muscle growth and muscle protein synthesis are not the same.
Muscle protein synthesis leads to muscle growth and this process helps you build big, strong muscles. Understanding how this mechanism works will help you boost muscle protein synthesis and build bigger muscles faster.
Muscle Protein Synthesis
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are about 20 different amino acids in our body. 9 of these are called essential amino acids as they cannot be synthesized in our body. You need to get these amino acids from your diet.
What is muscle protein synthesis?
At any given moment, amino acids in the human body are constantly fusing together to form proteins or breaking apart back into amino acids.
When amino acids combine together to form muscle tissue, this process of “anabolism” is called “muscle protein synthesis”. This includes the synthesis of actin, myosin, and other myofibrillar proteins. Actin filaments are thin while myosin filaments are thicker. The sliding of these filaments over each other is what allows the muscles to contract and relax.
When amino acids in muscle tissues break apart, muscle protein breakdown (catabolism) occurs. Interestingly, both protein synthesis and muscle protein breakdown occur simultaneously in the body, but at different rates.
Muscle loss and muscle growth
When protein breakdown overtakes protein synthesis rates, muscle loss occurs due to the negative protein balance. When the rate of protein synthesis is more than the breakdown rate, the resulting positive protein balance leads to muscle growth.
Our bodies normally swing between these two states. No major changes are seen in the mass muscle of the body on a day-to-day basis as both these processes take place at similar rates, maintaining a balanced cycle of cellular regeneration.
Any rise in muscle protein synthesis is followed by a similar rise in muscle breakdown, so the net impact on muscle mass is almost muted.
So how do we ensure that muscle protein synthesis results in muscle growth?
Hyperaminoacidemia for Increased Protein Synthesis Rates
Dietary deficiency of specific amino acids can lead to muscle breakdown. A high-protein diet provides the body with all the raw materials (amino acids) it needs to build muscle.
When there is an abundant supply of amino acids, there is an increase in the rate of protein synthesis and a reduction in the rate of muscle breakdown.
What is hyperaminoacidemia?
Immediately after consuming protein, for a short time period, the number of amino acids in the blood is elevated. This is known as hyperaminoacidemia (1). Being in this phase stimulates higher rates of protein synthesis than at a resting state.
What is the benefit of taking protein after a workout?
Training hard has a catabolic effect as this inflicts damage on your targeted muscles and breaks them down. But once the training stops, the body becomes anabolic as the body starts healing the muscles.
A high protein post-workout meal can help kick-start this process by flooding the body with amino acids, to stimulate increased protein synthesis rates, as mentioned earlier.
The amino acid leucine plays an important role here, so make sure to include plenty of leucine-rich foods such as beef, chicken, fish, soybeans, sunflower seeds, and pistachio nuts.
Protein Synthesis and Muscle Growth
When protein synthesis rates remain consistently positive over a period of time, muscle growth occurs.
In other words, your muscles gain mass and become stronger when, for an extended period of time, your body synthesizes more muscle protein as compared to breaking it down.
But this is easier said than done.
Maintaining a net positive protein synthesis rate on a consistent basis requires a high level of dedication.
Now you know why successful bodybuilders put in so much effort to make sure that more muscle is synthesized. They:
- perform intense exercises,
- have surplus calories,
- eat proteins and carbs,
- eat even more protein before sleeping and again after waking up,
- eat protein before and after their workout,
- use supplements if needed, and so much more.
Lean Muscle Vs Bulk Muscle
So will eating a high protein diet and being physically active give you big strong bulging muscle? Have you noticed that despite doing plenty of intense physical activities that lead to increased levels of muscle protein synthesis, professional athletes do not have bulging muscles?
Why do athletes have lean muscles instead of bulky ones?
Athletes mostly plan their diet and workouts for energy and endurance, so their muscle mass tends to be leaner.
A personal body fat percentage also plays a role in how bulky these muscles look. Bodybuilders focus their diet and workouts on building strength and bigger muscles, so they are able to achieve bulkier-looking muscles.
How can athletes increase their muscle mass?
An athlete will have to up his protein intake and do more resistance exercises, rather than cardio if he wishes to create more muscle mass.
When people with less body fat build muscle, their muscles look lean and toned. When they increase their workout intensity and eat more protein, more muscle gets built and the muscles start looking bulkier.
Additional factors vital for bodybuilding
Lifting weights and guzzling down protein shakes do not guarantee strong, beautiful muscles. You do see so many people doing exactly that and not reaching anywhere. There are so many additional factors involved, such as:
- ensuring that all essential acids are being consumed in adequate quantities,
- sufficient carbs for energy,
- fats for testosterone production,
- fiber for improved digestion,
- additional vitamins and minerals,
- adequate sleep for recovery, and so on.
Understanding the basic mechanism of how protein synthesis leads to muscle growth will help you reach your bodybuilding goals faster.
Before you go…
If you were looking for a magic formula to pop out those muscles, the answer is a high-protein diet. By now you will have understood that a high-protein diet is a key ingredient to achieving your goal muscle-building goals.
Missing out on any of the essential amino acids can negatively impact muscle growth. So make sure that your diet includes complete proteins such as eggs, meat, and fish.
Vegans can opt for soy or pea protein along with a mix of other high-protein foods such as nuts, seeds, and legumes. Pea protein powder and other vegan protein powders can easily be made at home, without the unhealthy preservatives or additives that commercial protein powders tend to have.
With the right diet, smart and intense strength training, and adequate sleep, your muscle protein synthesis will definitely result in muscle growth. all you need is to be consistent and disciplined in your muscle-building efforts.