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Maximizing Protein Efficacy

Recent research indicated 20 g of protein at a meal is ideal for muscle growth, and consuming it before bed offered the best timing for post-exercise recovery.

Protein and protein supplements have come a long way since the days of meat-, whole milk- and egg-fueled athleticism. Since the 1990s, protein powders—of the whey, casein and now plant varieties—have experienced a massive surge in popularity. According to Markets and Markets, the total value of the protein ingredients market is expected to reach an impressive US$58.49 billion by 2022. 

Recognized as a key component of the body’s own ability to synthesize new muscle, the debate surrounding the best time to take a protein supplement (before or after  workout) has been a longstanding one.

A recent study demonstrated that within a 24-hour period, an important, but often overlook window for protein consumption may be in the minutes before sleep (Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012;44:1560-9).

Another significant factor when it comes to maximizing the effectiveness of any supplement is dosage.

In one study, researchers recorded the effects of 80 g of whey protein delivered over 12 hours after resistance exercise in different dosages (8 × 10 g every 1.5 hours, 4 × 20 g every 3 hours, or 2 × 40 g every 6 hours) (J Physiol. 2013;591:2319-31).  Based on the study results, increasing protein intake to 40 g did not further increase protein synthesis. That said, researchers are often quick to acknowledge that variations in ideal protein dose may exist within different consumer demographics (including those defined by age, overall health, level of fitness and activity being performed/goal).

While there are other means for maximizing the effectiveness of a sports nutrition supplement (formulation changes, new research trials, etc.), one of the current and effective means to this end is to rely on the massive bodies of readily available scientific research for guidance.

To learn more about research on the timing and dosing of protein supplements, and other ingredients that benefit athletes, read INSIDER’s “Sports Nutrition: Before and After Ingredients" Digital Magazine.

Melissa DellaBartolomea is a content marketing specialist for NutraScience Labs. Based in Farmingdale, New York, NutraScience Labs is dedicated to providing companies and brand owners with excellent customer service and a full suite of dietary supplement manufacturing capabilities.

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