Protein synthesis occurs constantly in the human body as muscle tissue breaks down and rebuilds. Challenging your muscles with resistance-training workouts incurs more tissue damage, creating an anabolic, or muscle-building, effect. But without the proper nutrients to drive protein synthesis, muscles simply cannot recover fast enough to support frequent and intense training. Several protein-rich foods contain the nutrients needed for muscle recovery and growth.
Chicken, turkey and other fowl contain proteins, which your body breaks down into amino acids through digestion. These amino acids drive the process of protein synthesis. "The Abs Diet" by David Zinczenko recommends chicken and other poultry because they are lean sources of protein that can easily be adapted to any meal.
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Apart from its natural protein content, fish also contain the essential fatty acid known as omega-3, which contributes to fat-burning, reduces inflammation and helps maintain healthy hormonal balance, according to "Muscle & Fitness Presents 2010 Edition: The Ultimate Supplement Handbook." Fish also are high in L-arginine, an amino acid known to drive protein synthesis.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein that digests readily in the human body. High in the critical branched-chain amino acids, eggs represent the gold standard of whole-food protein choices, according to "Supplements 101" by Jim Stoppani, Ph.D. Eggs also contain a healthy amount of L-arginine and monounsaturated fats that support muscle-building and weight loss.
Low-fat dairy is recommended for muscle-building and fat-burning diets because of the high-quality proteins it contains. Whey protein digests quickly to boost protein synthesis, says Jerry Brainum in "Natural Anabolics." Casein protein, another component of dairy, slows muscle breakdown and also supports protein synthesis, reports "Extended Benefits" by Kimberly J. Retzlaff.
A longtime staple in muscle-building diets, steak contains amino acids from animal protein. It also contains naturally anabolic substances such as creatine and arichidonic acid, which boost protein synthesis. Lower-fat cuts of steak, such as top sirloin, make excellent additions to your muscle-building diet, according to "The Usual Suspects" by Jordana Brown.
Kidney, black, pinto, garbanzo and other beans help boost protein synthesis because of their high protein content. Thought they do not always provide a complete source of essential amino acids, beans can deliver a muscle-building boost when paired with brown rice. For vegetarians, this combination achieves a sufficient supply of complete amino acids for protein synthesis. In addition, beans provide healthy low-glycemic carbohydrates to speed muscle recovery.
Nuts and Seeds
Almonds, peanuts, pistachios, walnuts and sunflower seeds also support protein synthesis. Aside from their protein content, they contain essential fatty acids that support healthy testosterone levels. Anabolic hormones such as testosterone directly trigger protein synthesis in muscle cells, according to Brainum.