17 Benefits of Protein – Muscle Building and Health

Proteins are complex molecules that aids the body in many ways. Protein provides crucial amino acids and nitrogen that create maintain and grow tissue including muscle tissue, regulate the functioning of organs in the human body. Protein synthesis causes amino acid metabolism.

There are 9 amino acids that must come from food or from protein supplementation: leucine, lysine, isoleucine, histidine, methionine, threonine, tryptophan, valine, and phenylalanine according to a paper written by Harvard University. 

The Cambridge University Press states that in the US, the average person consumes 79.9 grams of protein per day, which is more than adequate.  Nevertheless, body builders may need more to aid fully in muscle growth. 

Besides just growing muscle tissues, proteins help to strengthen bones.  Protein can increase calcium intake into bones, slow down the parathyroid hormone, and increase the growth factor 1 production according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. 

Other questions arise such as how much protein is needed per day for muscle growth and bone strengthening? What happens when you consume too much protein? What foods provide the most protein?

Below are the top 17 benefits of consuming protein.

1. Increases Muscle Mass

Muscle mass is combination of the smooth, skeletal, and cardiac muscles. Muscle mass level changes based on the difference between degradation and protein synthesis. Muscle mass increase, also called hypertrophy, when synthesis is higher than muscle degradation. Atrophy or a loss of muscle mass happens when synthesis is lower than degradation according to the Essays in Biochemistry Journal.

Protein increases muscle mass according to a study by the Nutrition Reviews Journal by Oxford Academic. The study results state that increasing the daily protein intake by 0.1 kg, caused a mean lean body mass increase of 0.39 kg.

The Journal of Applied Physiology stated that when protein supplementation is combined with resistance exercise, skeletal muscle protein is accreted called hypertrophy. Mitochondrial content is increased causing better resistance to fatigue. Sustaining the exercise routine will focus the protein synthetic response.

If there is a lack of protein, metabolic rate decreases, strength is lessoned, and muscle mass is lost. For the elderly, lack of protein can cause muscle wasting.

Increasing muscle mass will stimulate bones to produce bone tissue which strengths the bones. This thickening of bones decreases fractures, osteoporosis, and osteopenia.

2. Strengthens Bones

The strengthening of bones is the building up of resistance to a failure load that leads to a fracture according to the Second Edition of Osteoporosis in Men.

Protein supplementation increases bone density and bone mineral levels. They were a reduction in hip fractures reported by the Journal of International for Vitamin and Nutrition Research when protein intake was 0.8 g/kg – 2.0 g/kg per day.

Bodybuilding strengthens your muscles. The pull on the bones signals your body to increase your bone density. Combining protein and weight training is advantageous to bone health.

3. Speeds up Muscle Tissue Repair

Muscle tissue repair is process of the regeneration and innervation of injured myofibers. There are three stages of muscle tissue repair: destruction, repair, remodeling.

Protein intake increases the number of satellite cells that enhance muscle remodeling and regeneration according to a study done by the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine.

4. Enhances Skin Cells

Skin cells form the epidermis. The skin cell types are melanocytes, Langerhans, or keratinocytes. The common type of skin cell is keratinocytes that make up 90 percent of all skin cells. Protein increases skin pigmentation that enhances protection against ultra-violet rays according to the National Cancer Institute.

Protein provides amino acids that form collagen in the body. This keeps your skin clear and smooth. Collagen is a protein and can be purchased as a supplement. Supplementation by collagen makes skin moist, elastic and keep it hydrates according to article published in the Dermatology Practical and Conceptual Journal. Skin health is important to body builders.

Protein helps reduce wrinkles that is concern of the elderly. The elderly is also concerned with sarcopenia.

5. Reduces Sarcopenia

Sarcopenia is the progressive loss of muscle mass and strength by the elderly. The Current Opinion in Rheumatology Journal published an article that states that sarcopenia begins in the 4th decade of life, and that by the 8th decade, 50% of total mass can be lost. Muscle mass makes up 60% of this mass.

Protein supplementation reduces sarcopenia by increasing overall muscle mass. A study of 24 French older adults 65+ states that Group A had taken 20 g whey protein per day over 6 weeks, causing appendicular and leg lean muscle mass to increase on average 0.37 kg higher than the placebo Group B. Study was published in the Canadian Geriatrics Journal by Vincent Hu of the University of British Columbia.

6. Slows Down Aging

Aging is deterioration over time of physiological processes needed to reproduce and to survive. Aging decreases the body’s ability to deal with metabolic stress. Aging can also affect body building since it increase recovery time.

Protein supplementation helps to slow down the aging process. A study conducted by McGill University stated that male mice that were fed a casein-rich diet at the onset of senescence over a 6.3 month period, lived an average of 26-27 months compared to 21 months for the mouse group on a Purina mouse chow diet. The casein protein fed mice also had enhanced liver and heart tissue glutathione content which decreases a loss of neurons.

Glutathione metabolism helps to protect against cancer. The probability of developing cancer increases with age. People aged 65-74 make up 29.7 % of cancer cases.

7. Protects Against Cancer

Cancer is the growth of abnormal cells that divide out of control and infiltrate normal tissue in the body. Cancer can spread throughout the body according to the Mayo Clinic. Body building helps to reduce the probability of cancer from developing. Proteins aid in cancer prevention.

Protein supplementation helps to improve the immune system that prevents development of certain cancers. A study by the Journal of Medicinal Food, concluded that protein supplementation via a maltodextrin oral snack improved the level of albumin by 2.9% and immunoglobulin G by 4.8% for a chemotherapy test group by the end of week 12.

Coping with the stress of cancer is aided by protein supplementation because of the energy provided by improving the immune system.

8. Reduces Anxiety

Anxiety is a physical and mental state of expecting something negative to happen. Remaining calm and stress-free aids in maintaining focus in the gym.

The area of the brain that controls decision-making feels that there is a threat. There is a physical response within the amygdala, ordering the hypothalamus to start the fight-or-flight process.

Constant feeling of anxiety is a symptom of depression. A study published in the Frontiers in Psychiatry Journal states that depression of an American test group decreases 0.621% due to a 10 percent increase in protein per day The test group in South Korea reported a reduction of depression of 0.703% by increasing protein intake by 10% per day.

Reduction of anxiety through protein supplementation is important since high anxiety can casue a rapid heart rate.

9. Helps to Prevent Heart Disease

Heart disease is described as many heart conditions that affect the functioning of the heart. The most common form of heart disease in the USA is coronary artery disease that can cause a heart attack. The top risk factors for heart disease are smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure.

Inflammation can lead to atherosclerosis which is a form of heart disease. Body builders dealing with general inflammation will need to deal with more pain and soreness also a higher probability of heart disease.

Consumption of protein increases the level of albumin in plasma that reduces inflammation. A reduction of swelling can lower the probability of the rupturing of plaques that can happen with atherosclerosis according to an article by Elena Bonanno in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

Elevated blood pressure can be lowered by this increased consumption of protein.

10. Decreases Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is a measure of the force that pushes blood through your arteries. Normal blood pressure is between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg. High pressure is above 140/90mmHg. The first number is systolic blood pressure. The second number is diastolic blood pressure.

Body builders with high blood pressure see less muscle growth because of the decrease of oxygen and nutrition that can travel through the arteries.

Protein decreases the chances of developing high blood pressure over the long term. The Framingham Offspring Study conducted by Justin R. Buendia from the Boston University School of Medicine, concluded that the mean SBP and DBP and the incidents of high BP were reduced. The risk of developing high blood pressure was lowered by 40%.

High blood pressure can be aggravated by viruses that create immune responses. Viruses can be affected by protein intake.

11. Reduces Viral Infections

Viral Infections are illnesses that causes by a virus. A virus is a microscopic germ that uses your cells as a host to reproduce. Viral infections will drain the energy needed for the gym.

Protein intakes can lower the instance of viruses in the human body. Protein using its antiviral actions to attack non-enveloped and enveloped viruses according to a paper written by Giovanni Antonini, Department of Sciences, Roma Tre University. The antiviral properties of whey protein reduce the prevalence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV1), hepatitis B and C virus, herpes simplex virus type 1 and 2, and influenza virus A (H5N1).

Protein also helps reduces microbial infections that are sometimes viral in nature.

12. Reduces Microbial Infections

Microbial infections are diseases or fermentation caused by a microorganism called a microbe which is usually a bacterium. Dealing with microbial infections can hinder muscle growth.

Keratin, that is found in various protein supplements, protects against microbial infections by aiding the skin to block out the entry of microorganisms into the body. Pierre A Coulombe, Department of Biological Chemistry, John Hopkins University, published a paper that stated that keratin provides a biological response that creates homeostasis when there is an attack of microbes on the skin.

Beside the abilities of keratin for protecting against infection, the immune system can recognize and eliminate pathogens such as microbes.

13. Improves Immune System

The immune system is a set of cells, proteins, organs that protect the human body from infection. The immune system creates a database of each microbe that it encounters so that it recognize and eliminate it faster into the future. Having a strong immune system provides the energy needed during intense workouts and helps to prevent setbacks due to illness..

Protein supplementations improves the immune system by nourishing the T cell that fight infection. There are three types of protein molecules that activate a T cell according to T Cells and MHC Proteins, 4th Edition: mhc proteins, costimulatory proteins, and cell-to-cell adhesion protein molecules.

Metabolic rate is also important to correct functioning of the immune system. Metabolism is affected by protein intake.

Boosts Metabolism

Metabolism is the set of life-sustaining chemical reactions in organisms. These reactions allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments. Metabolic activity aids muscle growth by converting food sources into energy that is needed during workouts.

Protein supplementation helps metabolism by providing amino acids that regulate metabolic processes. Protein regulates hormone levels that affect metabolism. Dominik H Pesta, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, stated in a paper that a high protein diet reduces body fat by increasing metabolic rate.

Metabolism is also aided by the functioning of the digestive system that breaks down food into molecules. Protein helps digestion.

15. Regulates Digestion

Digestion is the biological process by which organisms enzymatically and mechanically break down ingested food which is absorbed into the bloodstream. The process begins with ingestion, absorption, and finally elimination of indigestible material. Digestion is important for body builders to absorb nutrients.

Protein regulates digestion by providing the amino acid glycine that regulates stomach acid. Glycine is part of the tripeptide glutathione and bile acid glycocholic acid according to a paper written by Frank Petrat that worked at the Institute of Physiological Chemistry, University Hospital Essen in Essen, Germany.

Regulation of stomach acid through protein supplementation is important especially low stomach can cause food cravings or even digestive discomfort.

16. Reduces Cravings for Food

Food cravings are specifics desires for a specific food. Food cravings are triggered by environmental, psychological, physiological, or cultural factors. There are physiological changes such an increased production of saliva.

Food cravings must be decreased by body builders that are cutting for a competition.

Protein consumption can cause an increased sensitivity by the central nervous to leptin which lowers food cravings. A clinical trial by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition remarked that increasing dietary protein intake by 15% to 30% along with a constant carbohydrate intake decreased ad libitum intake of calories possibly due to an increased leptin sensitivity.

Food cravings can be seen as a source of motivation to burn fat. Protein supplementation can also help to maintain a higher level of fat burning.

17. Increases Fat Burning

Fat burning is the process of breaking down triglycerides into free fatty acids and glycerol that can be used as energy. Fat burning is also called fatty acid oxidation. This oxidation occurs mostly in the mitochondria of cells.

Body builders need adequate fat burning techniques to maintain a higher overall proportion of lean muscle mass.

Protein supplementation increases fat burning by causing thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is heat production in organisms that converts chemical energy into mechanical energy. Thomas l. Halton, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, stated in a journal that higher protein diets had effects on energy expenditure, satiety, and dietary thermogenesis.

Learning the amount of protein that one must consume to receive the 17 benefits above is important.

How Much Protein Should You Consume to Get the Full Benefit as a Body Builder?

You should consume 1.6 – 2.2 g/kg per day to get the full benefit as a body builder. This daily amount was stated in paper by the Sport Performance Research Institute New Zealand, Auckland University of Technology.

A study published in the Cambridge University Press, highlighted how a test group of males in Japan that were 60-87 years old prevented skeletal muscle muss declines by consuming elevated levels of protein.

Nevertheless, over consumption of protein, above 22 g/kg of body weight per day may be expelled by the body.

What Happens When You Consume Too Much Protein?

If you consume too much protein your body will store the excess protein as fat causing weight gain. An excess level of urea is produced with overconsumption of protein. Your kidneys will need to work harder to eliminate the urea which can lead to kidney problems.

A study in the Journal of Renal Nutrition states that high-protein weight-loss diets under certain conditions has led to hyperemia, hyperfiltration. and the speeding up of chronic kidney disease.

When consuming protein to the level up to 2.2g/kg, it is the combination of protein supplementation and the protein that is consumed through food sources.

What Food Sources Contain A Lot of Protein?

Food sources are any type of natural or artificial source of nutrients that can be consumed by humans. The food sources that contain a lot of protein are :

  1. fish
  2. seafood
  3. poultry
  4. beef
  5. milk
  6. cheese
  7. eggs
  8. pork
  9. beans
  10. soy protein

The above list was adapted from a reference manual by the United States Dairy Export Council.

Combining a protein supplement with a diet of the above items will enable you to reach the level of protein intake to build muscle. Some body builders wonder if they would benefit from take a creatine supplement along with a protein supplement.

What Benefit Does Protein Have in Common with Creatine?

Protein and creatine promote muscle growth. Protein provides the amino acids necessary to repair and build muscle, while creatine generates the strength and energy need for intense workouts.<——creatine