Proteins and a protein-rich diet play a major role in muscle building. Even if weight loss and fat reduction is to be achieved, a protein-rich diet is often recommended. Proteins are an important part of every cell in our body and during intensive training the protein requirement can increase. There are different ways in which proteins can be absorbed. They are contained in many animal products but also in plants and if the protein requirement is very high, protein bars or shakes can be added to the diet.
What role do proteins play in muscle building?
A sufficient protein supply is essential for muscle building, as proteins are a very important component of our cells. During muscle growth, the muscle cells grow, they hypertrophy, for which the proteins are needed as building blocks. Proteins consist of amino acids – the body can build and break them down itself.
However, the body cannot produce all the amino acids itself, which is why it is dependent on the supply through food. If the body lacks amino acids, i.e. the building blocks of proteins, for muscle building, the muscle cells cannot grow despite strength training and the training effect or muscle building does not occur. Conversely, protein intake without strength training does not lead to muscle growth. In this case, the body would simply convert the proteins into fat or sugar and store them as a reserve. When building muscle, a protein intake adapted to the daily requirements is therefore very important for the desired success.
In which foods are proteins present?
Almost all foods, except clear oil and pure sugar, contain proteins. However, among the most protein-rich foods are almost all animal products such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. Especially lean chicken or turkey and lean beef contain a very high protein content.
The types of fish that contain a lot of protein include tuna, shrimp, cod or saithe, for example. Dairy products should have a low fat content in particular, which increases the proportion of protein in total calories. Particularly high in protein are, for example, cottage cheese or granular cream cheese, low-fat curd cheese, Greek yoghurt and also milk.
Whey protein can be used as a dietary supplement in the form of protein shakes. Depending on the manufacturer, the powders contain up to 80% protein. Pulses such as beans, chickpeas or lentils also have a high protein content and some vegetables such as broccoli or Brussels sprouts also contain a lot of protein.
Especially whole grains and quinoa and any kind of nuts and seeds can also serve as a source of protein. Almonds in particular contain other important nutrients such as vitamins and trace elements in addition to the protein content. When putting together a balanced, healthy diet with a high protein content for muscle building, the question arises as to whether it makes more sense to obtain the protein from vegetable or animal sources.
In the final stage of protein utilization, i.e. when building new cells and for muscle hypertrophy, it makes no difference to the body whether the protein comes from plant or animal sources. Nevertheless, animal protein has, for the most part, a higher biological value than protein from plant sources, which means that the body can directly utilize a larger percentage of the protein, since animal proteins are more similar to human proteins. As a result, it is necessary to consume larger quantities of plant-based foods in order to meet daily protein requirements.
However, excessive consumption of meat, especially red meat, can lead to health consequences such as cardiovascular disease or vascular deposits. Therefore the consumption of meat should be limited to 300- 600 g per week and the rest of the protein requirement should be covered by dairy products, eggs and vegetable proteins. Vegetable and animal proteins are composed of different amino acids and in order to take in all essential amino acids with the daily diet, a balanced combination of the different protein sources of vegetable and animal origin is recommended. The daily requirement of vitamins and trace elements can also be easily covered.A higher biological value of the absorbed proteins can be achieved by combining different protein sources, for example by combining beans with egg.