The Role of Protein in the Body    

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The Role of Protein in the Body  

When you are working out, especially during resistance training, your muscles are under severe strain. The existing muscle fibers that stretch or tear will be repaired or replaced by your body during a recovery period. This process is known as muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and needs dietary protein to function.

Your body can, in fact, store protein to use when needed, but scientists believe that a unique window of opportunity for protein ingestion exists directly after a workout when you can best utilize the nutrients for MPS.

The window of opportunity

According to nutritionist Jeffrey Volek, the best tactic for optimizing MPS is to take 1/2 of your required protein dose 30 minutes before your workout, and the other half 30 minutes after it. You could either drink half your protein drink before, and half after your workout or you can instead make two smaller drinks.

It is important to remember that more protein is not necessarily beneficial to you. Adding extra protein powder to your drinks won’t enable you to build muscles more rapidly. According to an article that appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 20g of protein is more than enough to successfully stimulate MPS.

Pre-bedtime protein

Life often ruins our plans, and for that reason it is very possible that you might miss the all- important 30-minute window. Research, however, shows that you will still benefit from consuming a protein drink even if it is several hours after working out.

A study conducted in 2012 illustrated how subjects who consumed protein shakes shortly before retiring for bed (3 ½ hours after working out) enjoyed major MPS and other recovery benefits while they were asleep.

It must be noted that all test subjects did however ingest additional protein in the form of a meal immediately after their evening workout session.

How long does protein powder stay in the human body?

A great misconception exists that all food moves through the small intestine in 2 to 3 hours. Your body is, in fact, able to regulate the speed at which protein moves through the small intestine to ensure that all the available amino acids can be absorbed. It is, therefore, unnecessary to eat protein every 2 to 3 hours to maximize muscle growth or avoid becoming catabolic.

What matters most is eating enough protein daily, and not the frequency of your feedings. Although it is clever to consume a fair amount of protein before and after working out, it is acceptable to break up the rest of your daily requirements to suit your personal preferences.

What are the side effects of consuming too much protein?

Weight gain

The excess calories from the excess protein ingested could be stored as fat in the body—a terrible fate for someone trying to lose weight.

Gastrointestinal irritation

An excess of protein in the system has been linked to a number of gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea, constipation and bloating.


If you consume an excess amount of protein and not enough water you could end up having seizures. It is imperative to stay well hydrated.

Increase in liver enzymes

An increase in liver enzymes has been noted in people who consume high quantities of protein.

Increased risk of heart disease

If you are following a healthy high-protein diet this point is moot, but should your main sources of protein be unhealthy foods, your risk of contracting a heart disease increases.

What are the side effects of protein deficiency?

Battling to lose weight

Consuming enough protein is extremely important while on a diet because it helps ensure that you lose fat, not metabolism-boosting muscle, as lost weight. High-protein foods require more effort to digest, metabolize, and use, which means you burn more calories processing them as opposed to other food.


Long-term protein deficiency could lead to your body breaking down your muscles to try and supply your body with protein. This will lead to a loss of energy and strength.

Compromised immunity

A study published in Progress of Food and Nutrition Science claimed that being protein deficient can result in the loss of T cells, which are important germ fighters. As a result of this, the immune system can’t fight off bacteria or viruses as well as they are supposed to.

Thinning hair

Hair is made up of mostly protein and more specifically, keratin. If you are consistently not consuming enough protein, you may notice your hair starting to thin or even fall out. This happens because your body stops using protein for non-essential things like hair growth in an effort to preserve its protein reserves.

Protein powder

Protein powders are manufactured from high-grade resources such as eggs, milk, soy and hemp. They are packed full of all the vital amino acids that your body cannot produce itself and which has to be included in your diet.

Protein powder can be mixed into a drink or integrated into other foods such as oats and yogurt to boost your daily protein consumption.

Advantages of protein powder

Protein powder is convenience personified; it makes for a handy on-the-go snack and is versatile in cooking and baking. Protein powder in its basic form requires no refrigeration, which makes it easy to carry around with you on a daily basis.

Depending on the type of protein powder you are using, you could be enjoying specific health benefits. For example, egg-based protein is a brilliant source of vitamins and minerals and is a great alternative for people who are lactose intolerant.

Protein powder containing whey protein contains high doses branched-chain amino acids, which can help build muscle and prevent muscle breakdown.

Disadvantages of protein powder

As protein powder is so convenient, it can be easy to ingest more protein than what your body can process. The excess protein will then either be burned as a fuel source or be stored as fat in your body.

It is also possible to be allergic to one or more of the protein powder ingredients, or to develop gastrointestinal distress due to the lactose present in some powders if you are lactose intolerant.

1 Comment

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