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You Are What You Eat

A man working out

When we weight train we understand that gains are made through the effort we put in.  Effort requires terms like, will and focus.  We also need direction, assistance and coaching to acquire needed growth.  Tough training sessions often leave us sore and stiff due to damage to muscle fibers that require rest and repair to recover.

The question is, “Does this muscle damage and repair make us stronger?”  If we sustain a minor injury in sport we disrupt tissue and like damage from strength training both require repair.  Yet, from the lifting session we achieve the gains we are looking for, not an injury.  In both cases muscle repair has occurred, nothing in the repair process is causing the muscle to grow stronger.  So, what is it in the training session that increases muscle strength?

The response to strength-training is an increase in protein synthesis and if the increase exceeds muscle protein breakdown a positive protein balance occurs and the muscle will grow.  The response of muscle protein metabolism to the training session lasts for about 24-48 hours and meals consumed in this time period will impact muscle hypertrophy.

Resistance exercise is basically anabolic and stimulates the process of skeletal muscle protein synthesis (MPS) relative to muscle protein breakdown (MPB).  The goal of training is to shift the net protein balance (NPB) to a positive value (NPB=MPS-MPB).  In the absence of feeding the net protein balance remains negative and with proper nutrition net protein balance becomes positive and muscle hypertrophy occurs.

The bottom line is strength training requires effort to stimulate protein synthesis and a good diet to maximize results.  In 1942 American nutritionist Victor Lindlahr published, “You are what you eat: how to win and keep health with diet.” and this axiom – ‘You are what you eat,’ still holds true today.

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