Thursday, 03 October 2013 08:02


Photo Courtesy of Glen Delman Photography

Increasing muscle mass is a common goal for many endurance athletes. As it should be, an increase in muscle mass will bring an increase in strength and performance.  Strength is what separates those at the top of the hill with those at the bottom. Although genetics plays a large role in how much muscle mass an athlete can acquire, proper workouts and nutrition will support or negate an athlete’s efforts to increase their muscle mass and therefore strength.  Today we’ll discuss the important of supporting strength training workouts with proper protein ingestion, timing and type.


Recommended Dietary Allowances for endurance and strength athletes ranges from 1.2 to 1.7 gram of protein/kg of body weight/day.  For example a 120lb women needs between 65-93gr/PRO/daily, and a 160lb male requires 87-124gr/PRO/daily.  This is a significant amount of protein that needs to be ingested daily. The timing and type of protein consumption is yet another matter in this equation.


Recent research supports the consumption of 20gr of whey protein every 2-3 hours over a 12hr period. Studies found this timing and type of Protein feeding to significantly stimulated protein syntheses throughout the day compared with other feeding regiments.  Studies were conducted with casein, soy and whey protein ingested varying amounts and timing. Muscle biopsies were taken 5 times during a 12-hour period.  The researchers concluded that “the effect of modulating the distribution of protein intake…has potential to maximize outcome…. for attaining peak muscle mass” (Areta et el).  Although the research suggested that whey protein is the best source for increasing muscle mass, all protein types will produce an increase and preservation of muscle mass. Research often leaves out the daily limiters of real life athletes. Whey protein is the fastest digestible type of protein, making it a good choice for post workout consumption.  But eliminating other protein sources from ones daily diet can be impractical and unhealthy.


If you’re like most endurance athletes the idea of eating every 2-3 hours is already a well practiced ritual. You’ll just need to rethink a few of your food choices.  Protein sources with whey include but are not limited to: Milk, Cheeses, Eggs, and Greek Yogurt.  My go to post workout food choice is a big bowl with fresh fruit, blueberries or seasonal,  ½ cup of Greek yogurt (11gr/PRO), and 1 cup of High Protein Kashi Cereal (9gr/PRO).  So eat up and support your hard earned muscles!


Cindy Stonesmith

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