We said above that protein powders need to – or at least should – have a purpose: to improve recovery times, and ultimately, body composition. But how does that occur? Or more specifically, what needs to happen in the body in order to recover from a workout, and subsequently improve body composition. To sum it up with one phrase, net protein balance needs to be positive.
When you vigorously train or exert yourself, a process called protein degradation (the breakdown of muscle protein) begins so that the body can fuel itself, and a process called muscle protein synthesis (the creation of muscle protein) slows down. Think of this like shutting off your engine (protein synthesis), in order to fuel your car (muscle protein breakdown). As this entire process plays out, the available pool of amino acids in skeletal muscle depletes, as they too are drawn in and broken down in the natural, catabolic process during exercise training.
While this situation is quite adequate during a training session, it’s precisely the opposite of what we want afterwards. At that point, we want the available pool of amino acids to increase, protein degradation to slow or stop, and muscle protein synthesis to increase. Enter protein supplements. Protein powders are a quick, convenient way to rapidly increase the available pool of amino acids in skeletal muscle.
However, not all proteins are created equal when assessed within the matrix of molecular triggers, enzymes, and amino acids that constitute skeletal muscle protein synthesis. Low quality blends, fillers, masking agents, and the like reduce the net protein content of many protein products, ultimately reducing lean muscle impact.
A quality protein supplement not only contains a high amount of protein, but the protein sources from which it draws need to be themselves high quality – and the benefit a particular protein source has can be assessed by analyzing its amino acid profile. Human skeletal muscle makes the most use out of a few, particular amino acids (the BCAAs among them), and so a quality protein needs to have an amino acid profile that is optimal for this context.
We chose the protein blend for Core PRO with optimization in mind. Our mix of cold-processed undenatured whey protein concentrate, milk protein concentrate, micellar casein, and cross-flow microfiltered whey protein isolate has a robust and complete amino acid profile that has been shown in research to increase nitrogen retention, lean muscle impact, and satiating ability (the feeling of fullness). This blend has also been specifically configured to provide both rapid and sustained additions to your body’s amino acid profile – meaning your recovery is not only supported immediately after a session, when you most need it, but over time as well.