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The Importance Of High Quality Protein

  • By Corinne Mäder
  • Published August 13, 2013

The type of protein in Sports Nutrition products plays an important role to maximize training adaptations.

It is clear that type, amount and timing of protein intake can have an impact on muscle maintenance and growth.

After intense or key endurance or resistance training sessions, recovery naturally takes top priority because, after all, you want to reap the benefits from your training. In the period immediately after exercise, metabolism remains elevated and due to the earlier training stimulus the build-up of muscle protein is initiated. This is when ingesting the right amount of the right type of protein has a synergistic effect as it is necessary to repair the damage muscle tissue and tpromote training adaptations e.g. muscle growth.

For young healthy adults it is recommended to consume approx. 20-25g high quality protein as soon as possible after the session and continue to include protein at meals and snacks spread over the day and before bed.

What is high quality protein?
Proteins are comprised of individual components, called amino acids, which are linked together in chains. Nine of these amino acids are classed as ‘essential’, which means that the human body cannot synthesize them so they must be provided in the diet.

Nine essential amino acids:
L-Histidine
L-Isoleucine
L-Leucine
L-Lysine
L-Methionine
L-Phenylalanine
L-Threonine
L-Tryptophan
L-Valine

High quality protein sources contain all the essential amino acids you need to build and maintain muscles. Good sources of high quality animal protein in Sports nutrition products are milk protein, its main protein fractions: casein and whey, or egg protein. Soy protein is a protein that is isolated from soybean and is considered as high quality complete plant protein.
Poor protein sources like gelatin and collagen hydrolysate (hydrolysed collagen), which are made from animal structural tissues (connective tissue, cartilage and bones), are often selected as a more affordable protein source by some Sports Nutrition manufacturers.

“Collagen hydrolysate and gelatin are exceptionally poor protein sources for muscle as they are mostly composed of the non-essential amino acids glycine, proline and alanine, which we know have no ability to stimulate muscle protein growth and maintenance”, says Dr. Dan Moore, assistant Professor of the University of Toronto and leading Scientist in the field of protein research.

Gelatin and collagen hydrolysate have also been claimed to promote general joint health. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently concluded that there is no health benefit or effect between the consumption of collagen hydrolysate and the maintenance of joint health.

Conclusion: Read the food label to help select the right Sports Nutrition protein products that contain only high quality protein sources!

References:

American Dietetic Association; Dietitians of Canada; American College of Sports Medicine, Rodriguez N.R., Di Marco N.M., Langley S.: American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Nutrition and athletic performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Mar;41(3):709-31.
Areta, J.L. et al.: Timing and distribution of protein ingestion during prolonged recovery from resistance exercise alters myofibrillar protein synthesis. Journal of Physiology 1;591(Pt 9):2319-31, 2013.
Burke, L./Deakin, V.: Clinical Sports Nutrition. 4th edition. McGraw-Hill, Australia 2011.
EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies; Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of a
health claim related to collagen hydrolysate and maintenance of joints pursuant to Article 13(5) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. EFSA Journal 2011;9(7):2291.
Moore, D. R. et al: . Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 89: 161-168, 2009
Moore DR.; Areta J. et al.: Daytime pattern of post-exercise protein intake affects whole-body protein turnover in resistance-trained males. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2012 Oct 16;9(1):91. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-9-91.
Res, P.T. et al.: Protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 44: 1560-1569, 2012.
Tang, J. E. et al.: Resistance training alters the response of fed state mixed muscle protein synthesis in young men. American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 294: R172-178, 2008
Van Loon, L.J.C.: Dietary protein intake to allow post-exercise muscle reconditioning. Sport Nutrition Conference folder, Mallorca 2011
Witard, O./ Galloway St.: Protein recommendations for building lean muscle or toning up. University of Stierling, 2012

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