Build lean muscle and burn fat with this guide to protein
Protein is an essential nutrient that provides energy and plays many important roles in the body such as building and repairing muscles; helping build and maintains bones; and helping control metabolic processes. Proteins are made up of chains of smaller chemicals called amino acids – but not all proteins are created equal.
There are about 20 different amino acids, of which more than half are considered to be ‘nonessential.’ In other words, the body can make them for itself. However, nine other amino acids are considered ‘essential,’ meaning the body is unable to make them on its own. A protein’s nutritional value or quality is judged by how many of the essential amino acids it provides and how well they are absorbed.
Protein from animal sources, such as meat and milk, is high quality, because it contains all nine of the essential amino acids and is easily absorbed. Most vegetable protein is considered incomplete because it lacks one or more of the essential amino acids. And why does this matter? Research suggests that the intake of high-quality protein as part of a healthy balanced diet may positively influence body weight and body composition!
Build muscles with proteinResistance training is important for strength and tone. Consuming high-protein food like milk after training (up to 500ml) will maximize the effects of weight training.
Milk contains about 3.5% protein made up of casein (80%) and whey (20%). The whey protein has a high concentration of a special amino acid – leucine which has been shown to specifically stimulate building of new muscle.
In fact, a 2010 study showed that drinking two glasses of milk one hour after lifting weights helped women tone muscles and burn fat. Researchers from Canada’s McMaster University conducted a 12-week experiment, monitoring two groups of young women who previously did not do resistance-training exercise.
Every day, after their workout, one group drank 500ml of skim milk; the other group consumed a similar-looking but sugar-based energy drink. The women who drank milk gained more lean muscle and lost more fat than the other group.
Why 500ml milk? Intake of 15-25g of high quality protein in the first hour after exercise is recommended to promote muscle development. Two glasses of milk (500ml) is one of the easiest ways to achieve this.
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Milk helps your waistlineIf you have been limiting dairy (milk, cheese and yogurt) intake to manage your weight – well think again! New research has found that increased consumption of protein, particularly protein from milk and dairy foods helps people who are dieting to lose more fat and preserve lean muscle.
The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, compared three groups of overweight and obese, pre-menopausal women. The women were assigned to a high protein/high dairy diet, an adequate protein/medium dairy diet or an adequate protein/low dairy diet. The women exercised seven days per week for four months, including five days of aerobic exercise and two days of resistance training.
The researchers reported identical total weight losses among the groups, but the higher-protein, high-dairy group experienced greater whole-body fat and tummy fat losses, greater lean muscle mass gains and greater increases in strength. In fact 100% of the weight lost in the higher-protein, high-dairy group was fat. An additional benefit was that the participants gained lean muscle mass – which is important because muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does.For more information on the benefits of milk and dairy foods in sport and exercise visit