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Tryptophane X

A guy from Greenland wrote recently with three questions. He wants to know what is the maximum amount of protein suggested for ultimate muscle repair and building. He went on to point out that all sources indicate we can only absorb 35 to 40 grams at a sitting and doing the math — six meals times 35 to 40 — he came up with 220 to 240 grams. I had Laree check out the figures and his math was right on. Why, he asked, do some trainers or experts push for two grams a pound thus putting him at 400 grams at his 200-pound bodyweight? What a colossal waste of protein or worse yet, what if it's stored as fat?

Right on the heels of how much, too much was contested: "I heard too much protein is an overload on the body."

The writer goes on to ask when the trained muscles grow, hoping to concentrate the exact protein intake at the prime muscle-building time and assure max growth.

How much:

It is clear that increased blood levels of amino acids improve protein synthesis in skeletal muscles. I emphasize high protein ingestion for more than one reason, or two. Not only do muscles require the marvelous ingredient to repair and grow but also three-quarters of the solids in the body are comprised of proteins. And, complex protein composites are involved in an infinite number of functions within the human body including the hormonal system. There are numerous variables that determine the assimilation of and need for protein in all its amino acid combinations and concentrations: the mass of the system, its relative health and efficiency, general activity level, body composition, protein digestibility and other stresses, gender... age. I want all I can get.

Given that the 40 grams of protein is a respectful number to work with, can we expect that the 40 grams we ingest will be fully and ideally absorbed... or will only a percentage of the ingredients be put to use? Logically, the latter. I'm greedy. If it costs me 250 dollars to pay my bills, I want 400 just to be safe. The stuff has a way of evaporating or disintegrating and slipping through our fingers.

The writer of the Qs is within the protein zone providing the protein is of the muscle-building variety and from the most efficient sources... more variables. I am not able to get what I need and want without a good protein powder. I'm 225 pounds and consume about 325 grams of gold a day. I am willing and able to eat about 200 grams and I drink about 125 grams in protein blends throughout the day.


At varying levels man is always engaged in restoring and building muscle. And the need for protein for auxiliary fuel and amino acids for muscle development and system support are significantly greater for those who work out. Eat consistently, day in and day out. Breakfast is a key meal, serving you the broad spectrum of ingredients to fuel and restore you and set you in motion for a productive day. All systems await nourishment after the long rest and absence of food. Those hours surrounding the trauma of your workouts need maximum nutrients. Pre-workout feeding and post-workout meals are particularly vital to muscle energy and repair, to mention nothing of other stress alleviation.

I think it can be argued that muscle repair and rebuilding is immediate and on-going in that the cells are in the continual process of renewing and cleansing and chemical exchange to support life. Once the stress of exercise diminishes and relative rest is assumed, the muscles undergo their most efficient building process, assessing brain and nerve messages that indicate overload and the need for muscle enlargement as compensation. This period of muscle building is 24 to 48 hours after training, depending on a small mountain of... er... variables.

Too much:

It has been reported that high protein intake is toxic and harmful to the system. These claims are an exaggeration and without documentation. Extraordinary amounts of protein ingested over an extended period of time "might" adversely affect the kidneys; only if pre-existing conditions exist are precautions advised. Don't worry. An over-abundance of protein will only lead to protein oxidation, a condition that some researchers speculate will initiate "anabolic drive" or accelerated protein synthesis. That's always been my logic and theory. You too?

Not enough:

You want trouble? Read and comply with the guidelines for protein intake set down by the US government in its highly revered Recommended Daily Allowances or RDA, which haunt our lives 24/7.

The daily protein intake suggested by the USRDA and, therefore, most nutritionists, is barely sufficient for survival. If you get stingy with your protein, the amino acid levels drop, non-essential functions are compromised and skeletal muscle protein synthesis falls to a minimum. Glutamine, a primary muscle component, is robbed from the cells to fuel the hungry immune system. Similar amino acid swaps cripple the body's ability to cope with the stress and tissue damage induced by the heavy load of the tough life. Researchers fear that man is actually predisposed to illness because of the puny protein reserve that accompanies the USDA and Department of Health and Human Services recommended daily allowances.

The research done to establish the RDA figures is old and outdated yet the guidelines remain on the books like barnacles on a rusting sunken destroyer. They were formulated to give the general public an indication of the minimum allowance of micro and macronutrients for sustaining life (i.e. preventing starvation) under minimal stress. The researchers weren't considering the demands of living, as we know it today, nor were they up to speed with hormonal complexities, high performance, disease, aging and life extension.

Wallow in protein. Slather it on in great gobs. Stuff it in your mattress. Hide it under the floorboards. Eat protein and fly with the eagles.

God's speed... Dave Draper, aka Tryptophane X

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