You’ve got to rest and refuel your body, following a workout, in order to strengthen your muscles, and post-workout nutrition is essential for growth.
When you eat protein after your workout, your body breaks it down into amino acids, which are used to repair and rebuild muscle fibers, a process known as protein synthesis. One amino acid, in particular, warrants special mention.
Leucine is a natural amino acid that is found in your body. Leucine and the branched-chain amino acids, isoleucine and valine, make up almost one-third of your muscle protein. Simply stated, leucine triggers muscle growth. Leucine breaks down faster than other amino acids, and works to stimulate the production of protein and energy molecules in your muscles. For this reason, synthetic leucine is often used as a food supplement to help athletes rebuild muscle and increase their physical endurance and strength.
When you’re buying a protein supplement, check the label to make sure it has a full complement of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs).
Aim for 30 grams of protein per meal, including post-workout. As long as you’re eating enough calories overall, you’ll get enough leucine to optimize muscle growth.
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