Protein to gain muscle mass… really?
In the middle of the summer season, several athletes, including hockey players, are preparing for their next competitive season: acquire speed, improve technique, increase muscle mass… Everyone has their goals! Whether you are a hockey player or weight training and want to gain muscle mass, this article is for you!
When athletes aim to gain muscle mass, they first think of protein, which has a reputation for “building muscle.” However, do not be mistaken! Adequate protein intake is far from the only factor influencing muscle mass synthesis.
Back to proteins
The proteins found in foods (eg meat, poultry, fish, dairy products) have several essential functions on the body. Their main role is to build and repair tissues, such as bones, organs, muscle fibers, etc. Contrary to popular belief, protein provides very little energy for the body during physical activity. Rather, this role falls to carbohydrates. Indeed, the carbohydrates contained in food (eg: grain products, fruits, dairy products) are the body’s preferred source of energy during training or a game.
4 steps to building muscle mass:
- First, without a suitable training program, including strength training sessions, it is impossible to gain muscle mass, even if you consume enough protein.
- In addition, results will not be optimal without a diet containing enough carbohydrates. Indeed, it is clearly shown that proteins and carbohydrates work together to promote the synthesis of muscle tissue. This principle can, for example, result in the consumption of a post-workout snack containing carbohydrates and proteins (eg chocolate milk, fruits and nuts). Try our summer parfait recipe!
- Let us not forget that an adequate energy intake is absolutely necessary for muscle mass gain, which may require eating several meals a day (eg three meals and two to three snacks).
- Finally, since each athlete is born with their own unique genetic bagage, the goal of building muscle mass must take this important aspect into account.
What about the supplements?
There are several forms of protein supplements. Some of the most popular are whey supplements and casein supplements. Whey and casein are two proteins naturally found in milk. For example, a cup of milk contains about 7g of whey and 2g of casein.
Whey protein is absorbed quickly and is particularly effective at muscle synthesis, while casein is absorbed slowly and plays an important role in preventing muscle breakdown.
In helping to maintain and build muscle, these two types of protein are effective, especially when eaten together. Although some athletes choose to take protein in supplement form, it is interesting to know that there are much more economical alternatives (eg, skimmed milk powder) which, under ideal conditions, can produce the same results.
Finally, although the protein needs of athletes are a little higher than those of the general population, the needs are normally met by a balanced and varied diet.