Protein! Everything you need to know. Nick talks about how much to consume, when, why, and more! This is the first part of a multi-part series where Nick discusses macros and the importance of nutrition for your health and body composition.
[00:00:00.790] – Sam Ridgeway
Hello, everyone. This is Sam Ridgeway, owner of Viking Alternative Medicine. And we are here again with Nick Major, who is a medical practitioner at Viking and what Nick is going to talk about this is a multi part series here and it’s nutrition one. This is important because a lot of people think that going to the gym and that kind of thing is the most important part of fitness, whereas the nutrition part is like so much more like, that’s the hard part. Anybody can go to the gym. Not everybody can eat correctly. So we’re going to go into this in a multi part series, starting off with protein, and then we’re going to go to fats and then the macros, how to eat, what to eat. And it’s going to tie all together in one of the later segments as well. So, first of all, Nick, how are you doing today?
[00:00:48.220] – Miklos Major II
I’m doing well, sir. How are you doing?
[00:00:50.420] – Sam Ridgeway
Great, thank you. I just wanted to say that Nick has first hand knowledge of this because he does do the bodybuilding thing, which, of course, is just absolutely practically pure nutrition after you get past just the easy part of going to the gym. So, without further ado, Nick, take it away. What about protein and what would people want to know about it?
[00:01:10.070] – Miklos Major II
Sure. Today we’re going to talk about protein, a critically important part of what we eat in order to compromise body composition. So we’re going to talk a little bit about protein metabolism, how protein affects hypertrophy or muscular development and muscle composition, talk about protein intake recommendations and protein meal timing, this idea of protein periodization and the idea of protein safety. A lot of people have been fed bad data with respect to maximizing protein consumption impaires kidney function, and in a setting of healthy renal metabolism, healthy kidney function that just is largely false. We’ll talk about that here in just a minute. So what is a protein? Well, protein is a combined chain of amino acids that are the building blocks of body tissues. There are 20 amino acids that comprise body tissues within human physiology, there’s nine essential amino acids. Three of them are what we call branch chain amino acids, and then they’re four calories per gram. These are the building blocks of protein in the body. Now, there’s a constant state of protein turnover in the body and this will result in this delicate balance between protein synthesis and protein degradation or protein breakdown.
[00:02:48.030] – Miklos Major II
And this is important because protein balance can also be explained as the building of protein versus the degradation of breakdown of protein. So if you are building protein and that exceeds the breakdown of protein, you’re going to have a net positive protein balance. And the result of that is the development of muscle tissue, as opposed to if you have more protein degradation or protein breakdown that exceeds protein synthesis or protein building, you’re going to have a net loss of muscle tissue, theoretically. So when we think about these amino acids that comprise protein, the question becomes, where do they come from? Well, there’s a pool of amino acids in the body, and this is where these constituents of proteins come from. What builds this pool of amino acids that constitutes these proteins? Well, we see amino acids coming from dietary sources. The foods that we eat capture these amino acids. We see amino acids coming in and out of this protein pool from body proteins in the body, particularly skeletal muscle and organ. So organ tissue, this amino acid pool can also undergo a breakdown called catabolism, forming urea, carbon dioxide, and participate in the biosynthesis of these nitrogenous compounds in the body like porphyrins, creatin, carnitine hormones and nucleotides.
[00:04:31.330] – Miklos Major II
Dynamic balance of protein synthesis versus degradation really dictates the development of muscle tissue within the body. And so it’s important that we optimize a healthy net positive protein balance in order to facilitate healthy development of muscle tissue. So how does protein consumption affect hypertrophy? Well, protein alone causes a transient rise in protein synthesis. You can consume healthy amounts of protein and still develop muscular tissue even in the absence of exercise. Now, we know when we combine healthy protein consumption with exercise, it accelerates or potentiates protein synthesis and subsequently the development of muscle tissue. And if we feed the muscle during a strategic post exercise window, we further potentiate the development of protein synthesis and subsequent development of muscular tissue. So this anabolic sensitivity that we see exists in the body post training at around 24 hours. So the body becomes anabolic in terms of its ability to synthesize protein up to 24 hours after intense training. But this magic window is right at about five to 6 hours after training, which constitutes the greatest amount of sensitivity. Now, of the amino acids, there’s this amino acid called leucine, and it was identified as the trigger of this pathway, this metabolic pathway called mTOR.
[00:06:24.090] – Miklos Major II
It’s the mammalian target of rapamycin, which is a 25 cent word, which just means that it’s a signaling pathway that allows for the facilitation or improvement of protein synthesis or the protein synthesis response. And so when this mTOR, when it was identified, people were running to nutrition stores, buying Leucine powder and wanting to do everything they could to consume leucine in hopes to facilitate more muscular development. But it was demonstrated in further study that there’s a leucine threshold at around two to 3 grams. So there’s no need to consume supplemental leucine powder. This threshold of two to 3 grams can be obtained in 20 to 40 grams of high quality protein. Now, this can be weight dependent, depending on the person’s weight. But a consumption of 20 to 40 grams of high quality protein is sufficient to consume the adequate amounts of leucine to trigger this mTor pathway to facilitate improved protein synthesis and muscular development.
[00:07:40.910] – Sam Ridgeway
Let me ask you a question real quick. The 5 hours that you’re talking about, that magical window is that 5 hours from the time that you end your workout?
[00:07:48.350] – Miklos Major II
That’s right, yeah. 5 hours after
[00:07:50.290] – Sam Ridgeway
you have up to 5 hours to consume this protein. And not that it’s not going to work anyway if you go past the 5 hours, but that’s kind of the magical window to where you’re going to get the most bang for your buck, is that correct?
[00:08:02.480] – Miklos Major II
That’s correct. Yes. And that window is stimulated during intense exercise. So there certainly is a coalescing of intense muscular training that plays a part of that window. But for practical purposes, five to 6 hours after intense muscular exertion is that magic window of optimally utilizing protein. It’s interesting to note that protein is also insulin genetic and that it causes a rise in insulin for a period of time that actually suppresses protein degradation and improves protein synthesis. So this is important because muscular training and muscular exertion and resistance exercise is critically important to facilitating proper protein synthesis and muscular development if it is combined appropriately with nutrition, particularly with protein consumption. So how does protein impact body composition? Well, it increases satidity. That’s the medical parlance for the sensation of being full. So the more protein you consume, the more full you feel. And the stimulation of society that is stimulated through increased protein consumption. There’s also a greater thermic effect of food with consuming protein. So a calorie of protein is not the same as a calorie of a carbohydrate. There’s definitely greater thermic effect of food that’s stimulated through protein consumption as opposed to the consumption of a corresponding equal amount of calories of carbohydrates.
[00:09:54.430] – Miklos Major II
So in a calorie surplus, elevated protein can enhance muscle mass and reduce the amount of fat that is generated. And in a calorie deficit, that same amount of elevated protein can facilitate greater fat loss. It definitely is important that we understand the thermic effect of food and how protein not only impacts protein synthesis but also how it works on all these various other mechanisms to facilitate the reduction of fat loss and fat mass and improve the sensation of satiety to reduce hunger which overall globally reduces caloric consumption. If we’re looking for obtaining the objective of losing weight now, people in the athletic community sometimes weight loss is not the objective but protein does impact satidity and hunger.
[00:10:58.310] – Sam Ridgeway
Let me ask you a question here real quick. So calorie isn’t just calorie because a lot of times you hear people say that calories is calorie, if you take in 3500 calories in excess, you’re going to gain a pound. But it doesn’t sound like and I believe that’s true because I want that naked in a parade show and these guys would like shoot a moose or something, right? And they’d have all this protein, more protein than you could ever want and they’d put it up in this rafter and eat it and for whatever reason, even hitting their caloric goal, they still were losing weight like crazy just because they only had protein to consume. So that kind of alludes to the fact that a calorie isn’t a calorie because if they ate 4000 calories in protein in a day, it should have been perfectly fine, like their body should have been okay, right? But it wasn’t. And that only happened when they consumed vast amounts of protein. Did they hit their caloric goal, yet continue to lose weight on top of it. So I guess that kind of substantiates that claim. But anyway, go ahead.
[00:12:00.600] – Sam Ridgeway
I just wanted to put out there that apparently calories in a calorie. The thermogenic effects may mean that some certain types of calories are going to have a different impact on the body than others.
[00:12:12.050] – Miklos Major II
No, absolutely. Most certainly if you look at it practically, if you substitute 100 grams of protein in place of 100 grams of carbohydrate, it’s going to impact the body in different ways. In terms of athletic performance, you may have a slight reduction in athletic performance because a primary fuel glucose that’s used to improve athletic performance is reduced because now you have the predominant source of fuel being protein. But on the corresponding side you’ll have improved satiety or hunger control and that as a result impacts body composition and weight loss. So it is not correct to see consuming carbohydrates as having the same effect on the body as proteins each have their place and each are critically important. But protein affects the body in different ways than carbohydrate does.
[00:13:24.140] – Sam Ridgeway
If you gave your body an adequate amount of carbohydrates to keep your glycogen storage up and that’s for the strength part and the whole instant energy type. But then build the remainder of it with protein for staying full of protein synthesis. That almost seems. And I know that’s probably going to come a little bit later as you go through the series. But that seems like a pretty winning combination based on the information you’ve given so far. Anyway, go ahead, just throw that out there because that’s what it sounds like.
[00:13:50.670] – Miklos Major II
Yeah. So how do we dose protein now? There are various parameters that affect proper dosing of proteins affected by exercise, age, body composition, total energy intake and the training status of a person. Whether they’re very athletic, minimally or moderately athletic, this all plays a role in how the body best utilizes protein. But all of the data has demonstrated that one to 1.5 grams/lb of body weight that maximizes muscle, protein synthesis and body composition. So we’re looking at around 20 to 40 grams per meal to maximize protein synthesis. Actually up to 70 grams of protein per meal has been looked at in terms of its safety and efficacy in protein synthesis has been demonstrated. To be safe, the protein requirements for a 300 pound gorilla male bodybuilder is going to be different than 105 pound female who’s wanting to improve her body composition.
[00:14:57.830] – Sam Ridgeway
One other question I have, I think a lot of people have is the one to one and a half grams of protein based upon what your weight should be or based upon what your weight is? And the reason I asked that is a lot of people obviously come to Viking and they might clock in at 300 pounds, but they really should be about 220. There’s 80 pounds of fat, right, getting older and so on. So would the one to 1.5 grams of protein be based upon the 220 where they should be, or would it be based upon the 300 pounds where they are?
[00:15:30.830] – Miklos Major II
The way that it’s usually calculated is based on their raw body weight as opposed to their ideal body weight. So if we’re looking at optimizing body composition, their protein requirements are going to be increased. And so when you have somebody who is morbidly obese, they may not be able to consume that amount of protein. And so their protein requirements may be globally reduced depending upon their tolerance. If they have healthy kidney function in the absence of kidney disease, increased protein consumption is safe and will facilitate fat loss. But usually it’s just calculated based on what the weight is on the scale instead of the ideal body weight. Protein meal Timing how do we strategically consume protein? So maximum protein synthesis increases to 100% following a protein meal with adequate essential amino acid consumption. So a postmeal consumption maximizing protein synthesis one to 4 hours and then progressively decreases from there. We know that a fasted state results in a reduced or reduction in maximum protein synthesis and causes protein degradation. So that has to be factored in people who are involved in intermittent fasting or extended fasting. Not to say that that is wrong, but they just have to account for this idea of muscular degradation during our protein synthesis, degradation during the fasted state, and that has to just be accommodated during their feeding window.
[00:17:23.810] – Miklos Major II
So there’s this idea of protein pacing that’s important to understand when we talk about taking in protein and the timing of protein consumption. It was demonstrated in a number of clinical studies that if you flood the body continuously with amino acids and they looked at this in patients receiving parental nutrition intravenous amino acids for protein supplementation, that there’s actually an amino acid refractory period where the body no longer responds to amino acids in terms of facilitating protein synthesis. So what has been proven is that there really needs to be a period of time where the body is not being exposed to a flood of amino acids, that there should be a period of rest and then the body is reintroduced to amino acids to maximally stimulate protein synthesis. And so this idea of protein bolusing. Bolus being a partition amount of protein per meal, separated in four to six servings throughout the day, maximally stimulates protein synthesis and avoids this amino acid refractory period that’s been identified. So it’s also been shown that nighttime protein feedings also attenuates protein degradation. So when you’re planning your meals, eating a healthy amount of protein at bedtime also facilitates healthy protein synthesis and muscular development.
[00:19:08.750] – Miklos Major II
So if we look at this practically, if you’re consuming 250 grams of protein per day, that equals about five to six meals of 40 to 50 grams of protein per meal, evenly spread out three to 4 hours apart, that’s going to hit all of your protein needs throughout the body. And of course, those numbers drastically change depending upon the weight of the person and their individual nutrition requirements. But that kind of gives an idea of how to appropriately administer protein and partition that throughout your meals, throughout the day. So we know that protein consumption significantly affects body composition. And this is why, as you mentioned in the beginning of our segment, nutrition is so critically important and it drastically affects body composition. You can have the best drugs in the world and put needles in your body all day long. If you are eating poorly and exercising improperly, all of that fortune you spend on the medicines can be completely wasted. Nutrition is critically important as a foundation to really make all these other things we do to improve body composition work the best. If we sacrifice proper nutrition, we’re going to sacrifice the results we want to obtain.
[00:20:34.910] – Miklos Major II
So that’s the highlights of protein consumption.
[00:20:39.610] – Sam Ridgeway
Okay. Incredible. Yeah. So today it was protein today, and then I think you said next week we might do fats or something like that and just kind of take these different macros and just kind of break them down and then tie it all in at the end of that. So again, Nick, thank you so much for your insight. I think this is going to be something people are going to look at. The stuff I learned when I looked at it like intermittent fasting where I don’t eat from 07:00 P.m. Until eleven the next day. If I look at those putting those pieces of getting my protein in over the course of that window, it looks a little bit different. My eating habits would right, because now I have to eat, and then an hour later I have to eat, and then an hour later I have to eat. I have to put all of that within that feeding window like you said, as opposed to someone who can go till 11:00 at night. So I think it depends upon what you’re doing with your body as far as your eating schedule and other things.
[00:21:35.500] – Sam Ridgeway
I do think the intermittent fasting does really good for keeping my weight, but that could just be because I’m not able to eat from 07:00 P.m. To 11:00 A.m., which I normally could probably pack in an extra 1000 calories. And that just not even thinking about. But anyway, thank you for the insight. We’ll do fats next week. And again, Nick, thank you so much for all your wisdom and expertise.