1) Soy, Casein and Whey Protein Combination Extends Protein Synthesis

Many sports nutrition products contain different kinds of proteins to take advantage of their variable effects on protein synthesis. Whey is a fast-acting protein, while casein and soy exert their effects longer. Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, in a study on rats, found that a blend of the three proteins had a more prolonged effect on muscle protein synthesis than whey or soy protein alone. Whey, soy or casein proteins enhance protein synthesis, but a blend of proteins has a more long-lasting effect. (Clinical Nutrition, 32: 585-591, 2013)

2) Carbs Plus Proteins Best for Post-Exercise Recovery

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Carbohydrates are the principal fuel for exercise at intensities above 65 percent of maximum effort. Unfortunately, we deplete carbohydrates rapidly during high-intensity exercise. Carb stores are limited to those in the blood, liver and muscles. We must replenish them after intense exercise. A review of literature by Joel Mitchell from Texas Christian University concluded that consuming carbs after intense exercise, particularly in combination with proteins, promoted recovery. Carbs and proteins reduce urine production, which helps restore body water after exercise. The combination helps restore body fuel stores and provides the raw materials for muscle protein synthesis and glycogen restoration (glycogen is stored carbohydrate in the muscles and liver). The optimal recovery beverage contains a combination of carbohydrates and proteins. (Current Opinion Clinical Nutrition Metabolic Care, 16: 461-465, 2013)

 3) Leucine Increases Muscle Mass and Improves Blood Sugar Control


The amino acid leucine is an important nutrient that promotes protein synthesis. Leucine activates the mTOR pathway, which triggers muscle growth and serves as a building block for muscle protein synthesis. A study from Hubei University of Chinese Medicine in Wuhan City, China found that leucine supplements increased bodyweight and improved blood sugar regulation in rats consuming high-fat diets for 24 weeks. In humans, supplementing four grams of leucine per day stimulates the mTOR pathway and increases muscle protein synthesis. Whey protein is high in leucine, but several recent studies found that combining whey and leucine supplements work better than consuming either supplement by itself. (Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 57: 1067-1079, 2013)

4) Rice and Whey Protein Produce Equal Effects

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Whey protein combined with weight training promotes muscle growth more than training alone. Other protein sources such as casein and soy work more slowly but also have anabolic effects on muscle. A study led by Ralf Jäger from Increnovo LLC, a consulting company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin found that supplementing 48 grams of rice protein after weight training (three times per week for eight weeks) promoted recovery and increased lean mass, weight, strength and power as well as 48 grams of whey protein. Rice protein is another viable protein source for athletes. (Nutrition Journal, 12: 86, 2013)

5) Omega-3 Fatty Acids Increase IGF-1

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Insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) is a highly anabolic hormone that works with growth hormone to stimulate muscle growth. An eight-week University of Minnesota study of postmenopausal women found that a low-fat diet (20 percent of calories) supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids increased IGF-1 compared to a high-fat diet (40 percent of calories). If these results apply to young bodybuilders, combining omega-3 fatty acids with a low-fat diet might be a good strategy for preparing for a contest. (Nutrition Research, 33: 565-571, 2013)

6) Caffeine Main Performance Enhancer in Red Bull

Energy drinks, such as Red Bull, are very popular among bodybuilders and other athletes. They often consume them before workouts to increase exercise intensity and performance. These drinks contain caffeine (80 milligrams per 250-milliliter can) and secondary ingredients such as taurine. A Minnesota State University study led by Robert Pettitt found that Red Bull had no greater effect on aerobic metabolism and heart rate during a 10-minute bike ride than a drink containing an equal amount of caffeine. This means that the secondary ingredients in Red Bull didn’t affect metabolism any more than caffeine alone. (Journal Strength Conditioning Research, 27: 1994-1999, 2013)