Thick, bodybuilder-esque muscles aren’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for a lean, toned physique, those same bodybuilders might have the answer you’re searching for. A new review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reveals that those trying to build muscle mass should add significant amounts of protein to their diets—in addition to weight training—for the best results, the New York Times reports.
While watching bodybuilders gulp down protein shakes in the quest for increased strength might seem unappealing, the results might be worth it. Because protein is essentially the building blocks of our muscles, it makes sense that higher amounts of protein in our system would be beneficial to our muscles.
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According to the review, researchers used databases of published research to analyze experiments that included both a control group, as well as participants with a carefully tracked protein intake. A total of 1,863 people of all ages from 49 different studies wound up being reviewed, with varying amounts of protein and their sources of protein measured. After reviewing each of these studies, researchers found that men and women who ate more protein while weight training did, in fact, develop larger muscle mass than those who didn’t.
Now, it’s important to note that everyone in these studies increased their muscle tone after weight training, however, the group who consumed higher amounts of protein ended up with an extra 10 percent of strength and an extra 25 percent muscle mass compared to those who did not up their protein intake.
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Interestingly enough, these findings were especially prominent in people over the age of 40. Researchers theorize that this could be because this age group was already deficient in protein to begin with and as a result, allowed for the control group to show much smaller physical improvements than the younger participants.
While more studies are needed to determine protein’s effects on metabolism and weight loss, Rob Morton, a doctoral student at McMaster who led the study, sums their findings to the New York Times perfectly: “We think that, for the purposes of maximizing muscular strength and mass with resistance training, most people need more protein.” So, add some more chicken, quinoa and beef into your diet if you’re trying to tone up.
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