Many of us have our protein requirements on lockdown. You know that you need to consume around 0.5g/pound of bodyweight in order to sustain muscle growth and general health.
To what extent can you improve the way you supplement your protein in order to decrease recovery time, boost anabolic strength and decrease muscle wasting?
After all, the main purpose of any supplement in your diet is to enable you to either recover faster or grow stronger - beyond what traditional food would do. Protein is one unique macronutrient in the sense that when broken down into its amino acids there is a very wide spectrum of benefits.
Protein Provides Amino Acids
The main purpose of supplemented protein (from the perspective of strength training) is to enable faster recovery and greater strength through a stimulation of muscle protein synthesis.
What many people may not know is that the amino acids, specifically Leucine are primarily responsible for this stimulation. Some research will even show that BCAA formulas with the absence of leucine are not very effective in stimulation of muscle protein synthesis.
This brings up the question - if glutamine is the most abundant amino acid, and leucine is primarily responsible for muscle protein synthesis than which is better for strength?
Leucine Vs. Glutamine
The two most popular amino acids both have various benefits - but when it comes to strength, nothing beats leucine.
Leucine is the king of anabolic muscle growth, and research will even show that BCAA formulas (which are generally over 60% leucine) will not only sustain muscle growth but will also assist in enabling loses in body fat and overall adipose tissue without muscle loss.
If you’re a strength athlete or physique competitor you know that your bodyweight is just as important as how much you lift. Although some supplements boost performance, many of them do it by enabling a raw increase in body weight as well.
Leucine, on the other hand, has been shown to increase strength while lowering body fat.
What About Glutamine?
We know that glutamine accounts for about 60% of all blood amino acids, which would lead you to believe that it is important for muscle growth and other cell growth - which is true.
The interesting component of glutamine is that it is not necessarily a direct stimulant or regulator of muscle protein synthesis.
Glutamine is instead an amino acid that has the potential to limit muscle wasting, that is, your bodies ability to become catabolic.
This can be very helpful if you are training to lose weight and are consistently in a caloric deficit. High doses of glutamine can be effective in enabling strength adaptations while limiting the loss of muscle. This is one of the primary reasons why endurance athletes will supplement glutamine.
What's Best For Your Goals?
All amino acids are important. It is crucial to understand that just because one amino acid may be more effective than another in a certain respect, all are essential in your diet.
In terms of what's best for your strength, very few ingredients will stack up to the power that leucine can provide. In order to achieve the best results, we recommend supplementing 2-4g of leucine prior to a workout.
Those looking for advanced results can also use a combination of leucine and glutamine post workout to enable growth and recovery.