When it comes to muscle protein synthesis, do you think of bio lessons first instead of muscle building? We’ll explain what’s behind the term and why this process is important for your muscle growth.
Proteins are the building blocks of your cells and are involved in many important processes in the body. For example, they ensure that your hair and nails grow or your wound heals if you’ve cut yourself on paper. In order for everything to run smoothly, new proteins have to be constantly formed in your cells. This process is known as protein synthesis and affects your entire body.
Muscle protein synthesis, on the other hand, relates exclusively to the building of muscle proteins. In short: muscle protein synthesis stands for the process of building muscle mass. But how exactly are new muscle proteins formed? Protein synthesis is a process in which a gene becomes a protein. This process can be broken down into two main processes: transcription and translation.
Transcription takes place in the cell nucleus. A section of DNA is read using an enzyme called RNA polymerase and synthesized into an mRNA sequence. There you will find the information about the production of a protein. The finished mRNA sequence then leaves the cell nucleus.
Translation can begin and takes place in the cytoplasm of your cells. There the mRNA sequence is translated into amino acids. Amino acids are components of proteins. A whole chain of amino acids is created during translation. After protein synthesis is complete, the amino acid sequence formed takes on various functions in your body as a finished protein. Also in the form of muscle mass.
Muscle building vs. Muscle breakdown
While you are reading this text, your muscles are being built up in one place and broken down again in another. These processes run in parallel. But don’t worry! In the end, the overall balance is decisive, whether you have built up or lost more muscle. If muscle protein synthesis outweighs the breakdown rate, you have achieved new gains. And vice versa.
One might think you would be better off if the muscle breakdown didn’t happen at all. But that’s not true! Muscle proteins are damaged by exercise, physical activity, or metabolic processes. The breakdown of muscles ensures that the “broken” muscle proteins are broken down into their constituent parts, the amino acids. In this way, these can be recycled and brand new protein structures can be formed from them. Conclusion: Muscle loss plays a supporting role in muscle growth and adaptation.
If you want to build muscle mass, you should look for a positive net protein balance. Two factors are crucial: exercise and nutrition.
What effect do diet and amino acids have on muscle protein synthesis?
You’ve probably heard before that protein is good for your muscles. But what exactly happens when we eat protein? With the food you provide the necessary building material so that muscle protein can be made from food protein.
Protein synthesis can only take place if you have consumed sufficient amounts of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks that make up proteins. They can be divided into essential and non-essential. Your body cannot produce the essential amino acids itself. You have to take this through food.
Leucine is an essential amino acid and plays an important role in stimulating protein synthesis. It activates the mTOR protein, which triggers muscle protein synthesis. According to studies, an additional intake of leucine also helps to reduce muscle breakdown in older people. This amino acid is found primarily in foods such as beans, meat, fish, tofu, and nuts.
Why is protein recommended right after workout?
Do you need protein right after exercising? It depends on. After training, your muscles are particularly sensitive to protein intake. Protein-rich food lowers the rate of muscle breakdown by 50 percent and stimulates protein synthesis for a period of 3 to 6 hours.
If you’ve already consumed protein a few hours before your workout, you don’t need to eat right away. If you haven’t eaten for a long time, you should eat food at the latest after your workout to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. A post-workout protein shake is quick to make and can help you meet your daily protein needs.
Important: For optimal muscle growth, not just one meal is crucial, but the entire day. Make sure you consume enough protein throughout the day! We recommend planning in 1.5 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight if you want to increase your muscle mass.
How does workout stimulate muscle protein synthesis?
Protein-rich diet alone is not enough to build muscle mass! Without the appropriate load, your body has no reason to build muscles from the food protein. That’s why your workout is so important!
The muscle protein synthesis is stimulated by training stimuli and starts delayed after training. The stimuli from the environment or the mechanical stress on the muscles are signaling your body that more muscles are needed. The protein synthesis activity is increased and proteins are built into the muscles. Result: Your body builds muscle mass in order to adapt to the load and to become stronger.
It is best to train each muscle group 2 to 3 times a week, depending on your performance level, in order to regularly stimulate protein synthesis through the training stimulus.
How long does a muscle need to regenerate?
The muscle protein synthesis is increased after training and also marks the duration of your regeneration. This is the time it takes your body to repair the muscle cells. According to studies, strength training can stimulate muscle protein synthesis for up to 72 hours, depending on the intensity. However, according to studies, protein synthesis reaches its peak after 24 hours after the training session and slowly decreases again. During this period in particular, you should ensure that you have sufficient protein intake to support muscle growth.
With proper nutrition and enough rest, you optimize the process of protein synthesis and increase your performance. The role of regeneration is particularly evident from the principle of supercompensation.
Summary: Muscle Protein Synthesis
- Exercise and nutrition stimulate muscle protein synthesis
- Proteins provide the building materials you need for your muscles
- Training stimuli give your body the signal to build more muscle mass
- Muscle growth takes place in the recovery phase
- The protein synthesis rate is particularly high in the first 24 hours after training