Isolated protein in the form of powders – especially whey and soy protein – that are blended into shakes and smoothies are wildly popular, especially among men attempting to build muscle at the gym. Is this a healthful way to build muscle?
Exercise is the primary factor that determines muscle mass. The first important thing to note is that it is exercise – not food – that stimulates muscle growth. After a workout triggers muscle building, dietary protein provides the raw materials that muscles need in order to grow. If you are following a Nutritarian diet, which includes many protein-rich whole plant foods, you can easily consume adequate protein for muscle growth by increasing your total caloric intake based on your level of hunger. Another factor is to time your meals. Because excess protein calories are not stored as protein (they are stored as fat), it is important to provide the body with raw materials for muscle growth following a workout, as the muscles begin their recovery period. Naturally, we will become hungry within an hour or two of a workout, and having a protein-containing meal closely following exercise is advantageous for recovery and muscle mass. Taking care to include protein-rich plant foods, like green vegetables, beans and seeds will provide sufficient raw material for muscle growth.
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