Research published in 2008 by Beelen et al [Beelen M, 2008] suggests that the effect that eating (or drinking) protein during a workout has on protein synthesis is no different then the effect that the workout alone has when you continue to measure after 9 hour of recovery.
Confused? Don't worry...
I'm willing to bet that anyone who has spent anytime reading fitness magazines or bodybuilding websites has heard that eating protein causes an increase in protein synthesis, however it's important to take a look and see where this 'fact' came from.
Research does show that eating protein before, during or after your workout DOES effect protein synthesis. Research also shows that consuming branched chain amino acids can have the same effect. Interestingly, a main problem with this line of protein research is that they only measure protein synthesis for a couple of hours (usually around two hours). After this measurement is made, the researchers then speculate that the difference stays significant for a long enough time to actually cause you to build extra muscle mass.
Sounds great, but unfortunately when this measurement is taken for 9 hours as it was in the trial published in the Journal of Nutrition, we realize that the effect essentially disappears with time.
The two hour period may represent a little bit of a quick start into the muscle building process, but by 9 hours, this quick start disappears, and everything becomes equal.
This is extremely interesting since in this study, the people in the placebo group didn't eat for over 2 hours before the workout, then completed a 2 hour workout, then did not eat for another 9 hours, essentially meaning they were fasted for over 13 hours and they still had the same anabolic response to their workout as the people who drank a protein shake during their workout then had two more protein shakes once they were done their workout!
The bottom line is that 9 hours after your workout you will have build the same amount of muscle whether you ate a lot of protein, a little bit of protein, or even if you ate nothing at all - Leading to the conclusion that the muscle building effects after 9 hours were attributable to the workout alone, and NOT how much protein you eat.
On a positive side, this research does suggest that if you were working out multiple times per day (less than 9 hours per workout) then there may be a benefit to protein supplementation..however this is just a theory that would require more research.
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