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Protein is just one of three major macronutrients found in the foods you eat every day, but when it comes to muscle, protein attracts the majority of the attention. This is because protein contains amino acids, which act as the building blocks of muscle tissue. Protein drinks, which tend to be rich in protein and low in fat and carbohydrates, may help you enhance muscle tone while keeping body fat at bay. While protein is vital for muscle building and toning, you'll need to ensure that you have a workout plan that supports your goals as well. Consult a doctor prior to consuming any supplements to reduce the risk of any adverse effects.
Amount of Protein
Before using protein to pursue your goals of muscle toning or any other physique enhancement, you need to understand how much protein to consume. While the Food and Drug Administration offers a guideline of .36 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight daily for baseline maintenance, sports researchers suggest those calculations are too low for athletes concerned about muscle. Dr. Peter Lemon of the University of Western Ontario suggests that athletes should aim to consume .68 to .73 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day. Thus, for muscle toning, you may wish to consume more than .36 grams but less than .68 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight daily. Consult your doctor if you plan to exceed the daily recommended requirements and be sure to drink adequate amounts of water to avoid dehydration.
Protein for Muscle Toning
To improve muscle tone, you need to maintain the amount of muscle mass you have while keeping body fat at bay. This will allow your muscles to become more defined and improve their firmness and tone. Drinking protein can help you with this pursuit, as research from the December 2010 edition of "Physiology & Behavior" suggests consuming more protein enhances the amount of fat you burn during your training sessions. The study found that just 11 additional grams of protein per day increased the amount of fat burned during a cycling session. You can also get this additional protein from food; for example, two eggs provide 12 grams of protein.
Type of Protein for Muscle Toning
Choosing the wrong protein supplement can impede your ability to reach your physique-changing goals. Numerous classes of protein supplements support specific goals: weight gainers are very high in calories to produce maximal mass gain, while meal replacements contain a blend of protein, carbohydrates and fat to act as convenient nutritional mimics of meals. A simple protein powder is best for muscle toning, as these products have mostly protein with minimal fat and carbohydrates. Research from the March 2011 issue of "Nutrition & Metabolism" indicates that reducing the ratio of carbohydrates to protein in your diet can help prevent fat storage and instead encourage production of muscle tissue. By consuming a low-carbohydate protein powder, you can help lower this ratio in your diet. (See References 3)
When to Consume Protein for Muscle Toning
Nutrient timing matters when it comes to drinking protein for toning. According to sports nutrition specialist Dr. John Berardi, consuming protein following your workout will help maximize your results. Exercise sessions put stress on your body and cause minor damage to your muscles. Supplying amino acids to your body through a protein drink following your exercise session will encourage muscle recovery and growth. (See References 4)