1. You must perform regular resistance training (men and women)
2. Ensure you have approximately 15g of good quality protein at every meal
3. Protein quality is critical.
4. Protein timing is more important that quantity. 20g of leucine rich whey protein hydrolysate (WPH) or whey protein isolate (WPI) post work out and before bed can increase Muscle protein synthesis (MPS)
5. A higher protein diet with adequate high fibre carbohydrates promotes more fat loss and muscle preservation that a diet higher in carbohydrates and lower in protein
Higher protein dietary intakes have become quite topical with the re-emergence of dietary guidelines from Atkins, Paleo and South Beach books becoming popular again. Some of these diets have some nice disciplinary protocols which involve eating whole foods, reducing sugar and basically just reducing the consumption of junk food and alcohol.
Increasing dietary protein has been clearly shown to aid fat loss and increases muscle protein synthesis (building).
Regardless of the dietary program, the research shows that the diets that work for fat loss and lean muscle gain/maintenance are the ones that you can comply to. If the diet is too restrictive and hard to follow, you won’t sustain it. Actually much of the recent research suggests that dieters do really well in the first 3-6 months. No matter what the diet, they lose fat weight in this period. Unfortunately when results are reviewed at the 12 month mark, most subjects have returned to where they started. Not because the diet didn’t work, more so, because they couldn’t sustain it.
Bottom line is that the diet that works best for you is the one the one that you can sustain in your current lifestyle.
The best part about increasing dietary protein is that its no longer just for the guys “pumping iron”. Actually, the shift has quite appropriately shown that increasing fat loss and maintaining muscle can both be aided by increasing protein intakes. Protein helps all aspects of body re-composition, building new muscle, maintaining lean muscle, fat loss and the feeling of fullness which can work as an appetite suppressant.
When it comes to sustaining adequate dietary protein intakes, the use of supplementation can help. Of course, the approach of real food first is the best option, but the quality and convenience of supplementation is proving a great way of meeting daily demands.
Regular resistance exercise can lead to gains in skeletal muscle mass by means of hypertrophy (making muscle fibres larger). The process of skeletal muscle fibre hypertrophy comes about as a result of the confluence of positive muscle protein balance and satellite cell addition to muscle fibres. Positive muscle protein balance is achieved when the rate of new muscle protein synthesis (MPS) exceeds that of muscle protein breakdown (MPB). While resistance exercise and postprandial hyperaminoacidemia both stimulate MPS, it is through the synergistic effects of these two stimuli that a net gain in muscle proteins occurs and muscle fibre hypertrophy takes place.
Current evidence favours the post-exercise period as a time when rapid hyperaminoacidemia promotes a marked rise in the rate of MPS. Dietary proteins with a full complement of essential amino acids and high leucine contents that are rapidly digested are more likely to be efficacious in this regard. Various other compounds have been added to complete proteins, including carbohydrate, arginine and glutamine, in an attempt to boost the effectiveness of the protein in stimulating MPS (or suppressing MPB), but none has proved particularly effective. Evidence points to a higher protein intake in combination with resistance exercise as being efficacious in allowing preservation, and on occasion increases, in skeletal muscle mass with dietary energy restriction aimed at the promotion of weight loss (Phillips, S. (2014). A Brief Review of the Critical Processes of Exercise-Induced Muscular Hypertrophy. Sports Medicine).
Quality and timing of protein is paramount. There are plenty of proteins on the market using cheaper ingredients such as Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) and Soy Protein Concentrate (SPC). These do not stimulate MPS the same as Whey Protein Hydrolysate (WPH) or Whey Protein Isolate (WPI). Many of the cheaper brands (and some of the dearer ones!!) also contain a lot of fillers to bulk up their products. From a consumers perspective, ensure you get quality over quantity. Ensure that your protein has the added amino acid leucine also. Leucine is the most effective in stimulating protein synthesis and promoting a positive nitrogen balance. This amino acid directly and indirectly stimulates the synthesis and secretion of insulin, enhancing its anabolic cellular effects (Vianna et. al. (2010). Protein Synthesis regulation by leucine. Brazilian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences).
A recent study by Churchward-Venne et. al. (2014), showed that a low dosage of protein (i.e. ~6.0g) can be as effective in stimulating MPS than a high dosage of protein (25g) if the low dosage is fortified with leucine. This again, highlights the difference in quality of protein being more important than quantity. So although you may buy 1kg of protein for $40-$60.00, you may actually not get this desired effects to enhance muscle protein anabolism (Churchward-Venne et. al. (2014). Leucine supplementation of a low-protein mixed macronutrient beverage enhances myofibrillar protein synthesis in young men: a double blind placebo, randomised trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).