From Charles Poliquin
Any discussion of building muscle size and strength requires a spotlight on both meat and strategic protein supplementation. Recent studies show that dosing with at least 20 grams of whey protein every three hours will maximally stimulate protein synthesis to produce muscle gains in conjunction with resistance training.
Scientists are now exploring the type and quantity of meat that will have the greatest impact on protein synthesis with training. A Canadian study tested the effect of the following four doses of 15 percent fat ground beef on protein synthesis after a unilateral leg extension workout performed to failure:
Two oz. of beef providing 12 grams of protein
Four oz. of beef providing 24 grams of protein
Six oz. of beef providing 36 grams of protein
The untrained leg allowed researchers to consider how exercise influenced muscle building.
Results showed that muscle protein synthesis was greatest with the ingestion of the largest 6 oz. meal of beef. The effect was seen in both legs, and the trained leg experienced an additional anabolic effect. A 6 oz. dose is double what is recommended by dietary guidelines in the U.S., and the robust effect on protein synthesis was nearly two-fold, highlighting the need for unique recommendations to build muscle.
The larger meal of beef, and a greater overall protein intake, is especially important for anyone over 35 years old because muscle building is dramatically reduced as you age. Twenty-year olds may be able to get by with tiny meals of meat, but be ready to increase your protein intake as you enter middle age if you want to maintain, let alone gain, muscle and strength.
So, how should you eat and supplement to gain strength and size with training?
First, eat a 4 to 6 oz. meal of meat after training, preferably beef, bison, or other wild meat. Opt for pastured and organic meat if it’s not wild.
Second, take at least 20 grams of whey protein immediately after training. If you are lean and your main goal is putting on muscle, consider dosing every three hours with whey for the greatest anabolic effect.
Third, get extra fiber from vegetables and take a probiotic to enhance optimal gut health. You heard of the recent “red meat” scare, right? That was all about the fact that meat eaters need to promote healthy bacteria in their guts in order to avoid high levels of something called TMAO that is associated with high cholesterol.
Fourth, read the list of the Top Ten Foods for Building Muscle.
Robinson, M., et al. Dose-Dependent Responses of Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis Ingestion are Enhanced with Resistance Exercise in Middle Aged Men. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 2013. 38(2), 120-125.