The science of muscle hypertrophy: making dietary protein count

Proc Nutr Soc. 2011 Feb;70(1):100-3. doi: 10.1017/S002966511000399X. Epub 2010 Nov 22.


Growing evidence supports the conclusion that consumption of protein in close temporal proximity to the performance of resistance exercise promotes greater muscular hypertrophy. We can also state with good certainty that merely consuming energy, as carbohydrate for example, is also not sufficient to maximise muscle protein synthesis leading to anabolism and net new muscle protein accretion. Recent work also indicates that certain types of proteins, particular those that are rapidly digested and high in leucine content (i.e. whey protein), appear to be more efficient at stimulating muscle protein synthesis. Continued practice of consumption of these types or proteins after exercise should lead to greater hypertrophy. Reviews of numerous training studies indicate that studies in which milk proteins and principally whey protein show an advantage of these proteins over and above isoenergetic carbohydrate and soya protein in promoting hypertrophy. Thus, the combined evidence suggests a strategic advantage of practising early post-exercise consumption of whey protein or dairy-based protein to promote muscle protein synthesis, net muscle protein accretion and ultimately hypertrophy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Proteins / pharmacology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy
  • Milk Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Milk Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Muscle Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Resistance Training*
  • Weight Lifting / physiology*


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Milk Proteins
  • Muscle Proteins