Research has clearly established that providing essential amino acids after exercise is important for optimal recovery.
Whey has been shown to be an ideal protein source because it’s rapidly absorbed by the body. Whey is also high in essential amino acids, particularly leucine.
Rarely, however, have researchers tested how whey protein acts with different types of workouts.
Canadian researchers examined the effect of whey protein supplementation following two different workouts. They also tested how long after each workout the increase in protein synthesis lasted.
Healthy men performed either one set or three sets of knee extension exercises, immediately after which they consumed 20g of whey protein.
Muscle protein synthesis (muscle-building) measures were taken five hours after the exercise and protein feeding.
For both groups, muscle protein synthesis was significantly increased. But, the increase was greater for the three-set exercise group (3.1 fold) compared to the one-set exercise group (2.3 fold).
Measures were taken again 24 hours later. Protein synthesis had returned to baseline for the one-set exercise group but remained higher (2.3 fold) for the three-set exercise group.
These findings confirm whey protein increases protein synthesis and therefore serves as a good protein source after exercise. The effects of whey are greater and last longer when multiple sets rather than a single set of resistance exercise is performed.