In high school, my friends and I (all young meatheads) had an inside joke revolving around the phrase “staying anabolic,” said in a very matter-of-fact tone — making it pretty funny to us all. We said it at every opportunity, something like this: Me: “Hey, Jake, what are you doing this weekend?” Jake: “Dude, I’m staying anabolic!” Or when our teachers would tell us not to eat during class, we’d answer: “But Mr. Reinhardt, I need to stay anabolic!” All I know is that I was anabolic then, and I’m still anabolic right now.
What did we really mean? Well, at the time, I think we just liked using a science-y word like “anabolic.” It was not totally arbitrary, though. We liked to lift weights, and one of the first things we learned about the athletic lifestyle was that the body needs more protein to recover and pack on extra muscle, so we were eating protein all day — and staying anabolic.
We were told from early on that whey was the gold standard of protein. Yet we really didn’t know why. At the time, we hadn’t yet learned that there are some great things about other types of protein, as well. One very important aspect of proteins is their digestion rates. All proteins digest at different speeds, meaning some will push amino acids — the building blocks of all proteins (especially skeletal muscle!) — out of the gut and into the rest of the body quickly, slowly, or somewhere in between. Fast or slow, each protein has its own unique functionality for recovering from exercise.
Bodybuilding lore dictates that if you want to build gargantuan muscles, the strategy of having a casein protein shake before bed is quintessential. Why? When casein is consumed, it turns into more of a gel than a liquid, protecting itself from the harsh, acidic environment of the stomach. However, the stomach is the apex predator in this scenario, and it slowly picks away at the casein piece-by-piece, gradually releasing amino acids to be absorbed into the bloodstream.
On the other hand, we have more moderate digesting proteins. One of the most popular being soy, which isn’t necessarily fast or slow, but it provides a full spectrum of amino acids. Finally, whey proteins are the fastest digesting. Within 30 minutes of drinking a whey protein shake, blood amino acid levels are not only elevated, they’re maxed out. As a result, whey has become recognized as the gold standard for preworkout nutrition because it can get in and start recovery fast.
Hold on – not so fast!
At this point you may think you’ve got it down: Whey near the workout, casein at night, soy other times, right? Well it’s not wrong, but much like my high school exams, we should aim to “pick the best answer.” The answer in this case is “D,” all of the above! A combination of all three of these proteins seems to be the best for maximizing the body’s recovery processes, as one type of protein can make up for where another one falls short, such as during postworkout.
We know that after a hard training session, we want protein ASAP, but what you may not know is that the “anabolic window” is like a drive-through window — it’s open late! After training, muscles remain sensitive to anabolic stimuli for about eight hours — roughly two to three times longer than blood amino acid levels are significantly elevated from whey protein alone. Mixing whey with casein gets the aminos in quick and leaves them there to finish the job, while a moderate digesting protein, such as soy, can smooth the transition and never leave the muscles with a shortage of amino acids.
If the proof is in the pudding, we have the proof. Several studies from the University of Texas Medical Branch and other universities have compared the benefits of consuming a blend of whey, soy and casein to individual protein sources. The results have been far from equivocal, with the blend emerging as more efficacious time after time.
One of the few tests remaining is your own. Luckily, one supplement company has caught wind of the research as well, so you can stick to one tub of protein per purchase instead of three. MHP’s Probolic-SR is one such product that has conveniently blended the three proteins in ratios identical to those used in the research. So if you want to “stay anabolic, dude,” look no further than Probolic-SR’s research-tested protein blend!
Note: For more information regarding Probolic-SR, visitMHPSTRONG.com.