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What Is Muscle Protein Synthesis?

By Troy Holmes
Updated May 17, 2024
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The muscles in the human body are managed by a complex orchestration of minerals and food synthesis that handle muscle usage, recovery, and repair. Muscle protein synthesis refers to the way the body repairs and grows muscle tissue after exercise. This protein synthesis is more prevalent in young adults and in people who frequently exercise. Protein synthesis happens when food is digested and converted into essential amino acids that are used to create proteins absorbed by the muscles.

Several supplements claim to help promote protein synthesis in the human body. Body builders and athletes use these supplements to help recovery from physical exertion. Muscle protein synthesis is how the body builds new muscle after physical activity. This muscle growth typically starts a few hours after exercise ends, which is why most body builders take protein shakes and supplements immediately after exercise.

Resistance training and exercise is the only way to cause muscle protein synthesis. Many vitamin supplements can help the boost recovery after exercise, but they do not cause synthesis to occur. When the muscles are stressed, small tears break down the muscle tissue, which is repaired by increased blood flow and muscle growth. That is why muscles tend to grow larger and become stronger when they are stressed.

Muscle protein synthesis requires a balance of nutrition and exercise. These are the essential building blocks for growing muscle tissue in the human body. When a person eats food, it is converted into energy and muscle protein that can be used by the body to recover from physical activity. Growing muscle requires a delicate balance of nutrition, exercise, and rest.

Muscles broken down by exercise rebuild through the chemical process of muscle protein synthesis. This physical growth reaction takes 24 to 48 hours to complete for a typical adult, which is why it is important to rest muscles for two days after any heavy physical activity.

Overtraining is a condition caused by athletes who train too frequently. Effective muscle protein synthesis requires sufficient recovery time. If a person trains on a daily basis, muscles become catabolic, which can lead to injuries and stress on the joints because they muscles don't have enough time to recover and grow.

Several over-the-counter pain medications can inhibit muscle protein synthesis. People striving to increase muscle size should refrain from taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen after exercise. These painkillers can reduce the natural abilities for the body to rebuild muscle.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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