Best Supplements for Protein Synthesis

Protein synthesis means maintaining proper nutrition so that muscles can use dietary amino acids and the proteins to rebuild and repair themselves. Supplements with an anabolic or building effect on muscles increase protein synthesis. Known as the breakdown of muscle tissues, catabolism occurs when protein synthesis halts due to intense exercise poor nutrition. Add some powerful supplements to your regimen to increase protein synthesis and achieve your muscle-building and fat-burning goals.

Training with weight cannot build muscle unless your nutrition is adequate. (Image: sharpshutter/iStock/Getty Images)

Whey Protein

A fast-digesting protein from milk, whey boosts protein synthesis in many ways. Whey protein triggers an insulin release from the pancreas, according to "Xtreme Lean" authors Jonathan Lawson and Steve Holman. The hormone insulin creates an anabolic effect to increase protein synthesis by driving nutrients into muscle cells, according to "The Carbo Rater" by Jordana Brown. Moreover, whey provides high amounts of the BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, that trigger protein synthesis according to "Natural Anabolics" by Jerry Brainum. Take 20 or more grams of whey upon waking or before and after workouts.

Casein Protein

According to "Extended Benefits" by Kimberly Retzlaff, the slower digesting component of milk known as casein inhibits muscle protein breakdown. The slow trickle of amino acids to muscles, due to slow digestion, keeps the body from cannibalizing its own protein. More recently, casein has proved to increase protein synthesis when taken prior to a workout, according to Kevin Tipton, PhD, of the University of Birmingham, England. Take 20 or more grams of casein before and after workouts and at bedtime.


Branched-chain amino acids, BCAA, have a VIP status in the human body because they bypass the normal pathways of protein digestion, according to Brainum. This means that they travel directly to muscle tissue, where they inhibit protein breakdown. More importantly, they switch on protein synthesis to trigger muscle building and recovery. L-Leucine, in particular, triggers insulin release and plays many other important roles in faster muscle recovery. Take 3g to 5g before, during and/or after workouts, says "The 101 Best Muscle-Building Tips Ever" by Eric Velazquez.


An amino acid-like substance, creatine comes from L-arginine, L-methionine and L-glycine. The body makes this compound in the liver and obtains dietary sources from meat. Taking creatine boosts intramuscular levels of this powerful compound to fuel more intense workouts. In addition, creatine boosts the levels of IGF-1, a hormone that turns on protein synthesis in muscle cells, according to "The Top Ten Supps You Can't Live Without" by Jim Stoppani, PhD. Take 5g to 10g daily, split into pre- and post-workout doses.

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