Leucine triggering plays vital role
Developments in the whey protein market have given rise to the theme of ‘protein for life’ – the opportunity to take advantage of the health benefits that whey protein can offer throughout a life time. Polly Olson, Vice President of Business Development, Sales & Marketing at Davisco explains that the unique profile of whey protein which includes all of the essential amino-acids makes it possible for it to be marketed to the infant formula segment right through to the elderly. The Asian market is set to dominate in future due to a boom in births and China now changing its policy to allow for a second child. The main challenges that the industry will face in catering for this boost in demand will be supply and quality. Reliability of supply source will become ever more important as well as ensuring quality so not to fall foul of Asian regulators.
By breaking down whey protein it is possible to pinpoint the specific lifespan health benefits. As Dr Phanin Leksrisompong, Director or Business Development at Davisco explains, alpha-lactalbumin is the second most abundant protein found in whey. As well as offering benefits in infant nutrition, alpha-lactalbumin is also high in a number of key amino acids. Tryptophan is a pre-cursor of serotonin, a neuro-transmitter for sensory satisfaction (pleasure & pain etc..). As we age serotonin production in the brain decreases, so a diet high in tryptophan can help to remedy this. Alpha-lactalbumin is also rich in cysteine, a pre-cursor to glutathione.
Leucine triggering 3-4 hour muscle synthesis
Leucine is a very important amino acid found in whey protein as it acts as a metabolic trigger for muscle synthesis. As we learned from Dr. Donald Layman, Professor of Nutrition at the University of Illinois, this triggering mechanism is very complicated and the body only wants to turn it on when it has the necessary nutritional resources (i.e a meal containing enough leucine to initiate triggering). After triggering, muscle synthesis will run for 3-4 hours and cannot be re-triggered over this period. Bodybuilders often adapt their diets to maximise upon this mechanism and stay in an anabolic state by eating every 3-4 hours. The bodies sensitivity to leucine decreases with age meaning that it becomes ever more challenging to develop muscle in older age. So supplementation with whey protein would be significantly beneficial in this instance. Most Americans only eat one meal a day with enough protein to trigger muscle synthesis, spending only 3 hours per day in an anabolic state whilst almost 21 hours are spent breaking down muscle tissue which is probably one of the contributing factors of muscle loss in old age.