Although protein powder has lots of uses – many of which impact your overall health – people usually take it with one thing in mind: hypertrophy.
Protein powder, most of the time is all about muscle growth. But how, exactly, does this process work?
Hypertrophy: The Basics
First, we have to start with what causes muscles to grow. How does hypertrophy work? When you exercise, your muscles are damaged – enduring tiny, microscopic tears in the fibers.
As a result, your brain decides that those fibers need to be rebuilt. Not only that, but the tissue needs to be made stronger than it was so that that damage doesn't happen again.
So, the damage is fixed and, at the same time, the affected muscle is made bigger and stronger. This, simply put, is how muscles grow.
Where Protein Powder Comes In
Just like any other repair work, though, it's absolutely vital that all of the necessary materials be present. For your body, this means protein.
Although we tend to think of protein as if it's one uniform thing, the reality is that there are many different types of proteins. Each of these contains a different mix of amino acids bound together in a unique structure.
Once you ingest those proteins, your body takes them apart and reorganizes the amino acids to fill whatever need currently exists. Depending on the situation, this can mean that those amino acids become hormones, various cells, connective tissue or... you guessed it, muscles.
After you've exercised and given your body the signal that it's time to strengthen those muscles, then, it's vital that you make sure to provide all of the necessary materials for that building work.
A complete protein, one that contains all of the necessary amino acids, makes sure that those materials are present.
How, though, can you use protein powder to make sure that stimulate the hypertrophy you're looking for?
According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the two basic rules for encouraging hypertrophy for protein supplementation are:
- Consume between 1.2 and 2g of protein per kg of body weight
- Eat around 44 to 50 total calories per kg of body weight
For the best results, take your protein powder shortly after your workout combined with fruit or some other fast-acting carbohydrate. This will increase your insulin response which will, in turn, allow the amino acid leucine to quickly and effectively stimulate muscle growth.
Again, it's important that your workout complement your diet. Use compound exercises like squats and bench presses with heavy weights that limit you to about 8 to 10 reps.
This will involve a huge number of muscle fibers in each lift, burning more calories and stimulating more growth.