The three main macronutrients used by the human body for energy are proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Of these the role of proteins in muscle growth is well understood.
Proteins are essentially long chains of amino acids held together by peptide links. Amino acids are a major nitrogen source for the body and having a positive nitrogen balance is essential for muscle building and muscle growth. In addition to helping gain muscles, proteins also play a vital role in maintaining general good health.
If you are serious about muscle building then you need to increase your protein intake along with a high intense workout program to gain muscle. This would enable the body to constantly repair and build lean muscle tissues thus aiding muscle growth. If you do not eat a protein rich diet, then an intense workout can actually cause you to lose muscles as the muscles may be broken down to be used as an energy source for the body. A low protein in your diet will also affect your hormone balance and lower your immune resistance.
Muscle growth is more resource intensive than plain muscle maintenance and that is why you should take a higher protein content so as to maintain the nitrogen balance in positive territory.
Proteins are harder to digest than carbohydrates and fats. Thus a high protein diet will also enable you to lose that excess fat. A high protein diet will also ensure that the fat reserves are properly metabolized into energy and your muscles are not broken down for the body’s energy needs.
A low protein diet can make you feel lethargic and ‘out of energy’ after an intense workout. Thus if you are undergoing intense muscle building workouts and are keen on muscle growth then you need to consume at least twice the recommended protein intake for an average person. Thus you should consume at least 1 gm of protein per pound of your weight.
Proteins play a critical role in muscle growth and muscle repair. After an intense training session your muscles lose glycogen and needs to be repaired. A positive nitrogen balance in the body helps the body to be in a constant state of ‘muscle repair’ resulting in muscle growth. For this muscle building to happen properly, a steady intake of proteins is needed.
Typical food sources of proteins include eggs, milk, meat, soy, nuts and cheese. Protein foods are broadly divided into two: complete and incomplete. A complete protein food is one which contains all the essential amino acids. Typical complete protein foods are beef, poultry and pork. Incomplete protein foods contain some but not all amino acids. These typically include vegetables and legumes.
In addition to eating a protein rich diet, you may also need to take protein supplements to help gain muscles fast. Protein supplements also have the added advantage that they can be consumed easily and do not need to be cooked. These also act as complete protein foods for vegetarians who are keen on muscle building.