Here’s a tidbit you’re sure to know if you’re a serious bodybuilder: protein is an essential component of a successful musclebuilding diet. But there’s a little more to it than that, and so, we provide the five key protein facts you must know to grow.



Specifically, amino acids — the building blocks or subunits of protein — increase the production of hormones in the body that affect muscle repair. Eating a higher protein diet leads to elevated levels of amino acids in the bloodstream. That is correlated with higher growth hormone and insulinlike growth factor-I levels. Growth hormone supports size expansion by pushing amino acids into muscles and by sparing the breakdown of muscle tissue, while IGF-I is sort of an offshoot of GH and signals muscle cells to grow. In addition to raising hormone levels, the amino acids themselves trigger muscle size increases by signaling muscle cells to turn on the muscle-building process known as protein synthesis.


Training increases levels of the catabolic hormone cortisol. Cortisol blunts muscle growth by increasing muscle protein breakdown and hindering testosterone’s anabolic actions. However, amino acids can suppress the ability of cortisol to lock up with muscle tissue, preventing muscle breakdown and allowing testosterone to do its  anabolic thing. This may be one of several reasons why using a whey-based protein powder after training leads to great results. Besides providing the protein needed for muscle growth, the amino acids also interfere with the tendency that cortisol has to put a damper on recovery.



Although carbs can increase insulin, combining fast-digesting protein (like whey protein powder) with carbohydrates can really exert a strong uptick on insulin production. The benefit is that very high insulin levels after training can virtually guarantee that your body will rapidly switch out of a muscle-losing state common with excruciatingly intense training sessions. The combo also turns on mechanisms that drive creatine into the muscles; so, taking creatine after training is ideal, as more of it will make it to this all-important final destination.


One big no-no in nutrition is eating carbs by themselves. When you eat carbs in the absence of protein, they tend to rush into the blood, and this effect can trigger fat storage and a subsequent drop in glucose levels, leading to both hunger and mental fatigue. By always combining carbs with whole-food protein, you avoid those problems. In addition, protein slows the breakdown of carbohydrates, and that is seen as a stabilizer of energy levels. When the body perceives greater stability in energy, it’s more likely to recover faster, as well as to grow better.


Eating a meal high in protein decreases hunger, which is one reason why high-protein diets are so effective at dropping bodyfat. Research shows that when you eat protein, it raises levels of hormone-blunting hormones that are released by the digestive tract and signal the brain that you are full. This can be a big help to decrease cravings and keep you on track when you are dieting to get lean. – FLEX