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A large number of studies have proved that protein supplementation after resistance augments protein synthesis.
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Whey protein in particular is an effective protein source because it is rapidly absorbed and contains a relatively rich source of leucine, an amino acid known to target signaling mechanisms that increase protein synthesis. Less is known about how different workout configurations impact the response in protein synthesis. Canadian researchers performed an interesting experiment to test the effects of whey protein supplementation on protein synthesis in the context of two different workouts. They also examined how long after exercise the increase in protein synthesis lasts.  Healthy men served as subjects and served as their own controls. Using a single knee extension exercise, they performed one set with one leg and 3 sets with the other leg. Immediately after exercise 20 grams of whey protein was consumed and measures of protein synthesis made during recovery. Muscle protein synthesis was significantly increased 5 hours after exercise and whey protein ingestion, but the increase was greater after the 3 set (3.1 fold) compared to the 1 set (2.3 fold) protocol. Measures were taken again 29 hours after exercise. Protein synthesis had returned to baseline after 1 set but remained 2.3 fold higher after the 3 set protocol. These findings indicate that whey protein results in a greater increase in muscle protein synthesis when multiple sets rather than a single set of resistance exercise is performed. Further, there is a sustained increase in muscle protein synthesis when whey protein is consumed after multiple sets of resistance that lasts at least 29 hours.


                      .Burd NA, Holwerda AM, Selby KC, West DW, Staples AW, Cain NE, Cashaback JG, Potvin JR, Baker SK, Phillips SM. Resistance exercise volume affects myofibrillar protein synthesis and anabolic signalling molecule phosphorylation in young men.  J Physiol. 2010 Jun 25.