Advanced Muscle Gain Techniques - Nutrition Standpoint by Top Personal Trainer in Dubai UAE Team AbhiFit

Advanced Muscle Gain Techniques – Nutrition Standpoint

Protein Intake for Maximal Hypertrophy

Hypertrophy is an increase and growth of muscle cells. It refers to an increase in muscular size.”

Being an MNU nutritionist in Dubai, I have taken this pyramid from my MNU course lectures. There are many versions of this pyramid, but this one is more comprehensive than others.

If you look at the hierarchy of importance for muscle hypertrophy you find protein at the base of it. It is about how a muscle-building program should evolve. However, whenever you look at this pyramid do bear in mind that you don’t forget the things higher up. It’s just what you need to focus on first i.e. protein.

Hierarchy of Importance for Muscle Hypertrophy from MNU Course by Top Personal Trainer in Dubai UAE

Protein Nitrogen:

When protein synthesis exceeds protein breakdown, the positive nitrogen balance promotes muscle growth. If one has no protein, could he or she build muscle? No, because nitrogen is a unique component of protein which no other macro-nutrient has.

Once the individual protein requirements are met, energy content of the diet has the largest effect on body composition. Note that there is no nitrogen within carbohydrates (CHO i.e. it contains carbon, hydrogen and oxygen). So, protein is necessary for building muscles.

Nitrogen is present in all amino acids and nucleotides, and therefore in all proteins. Since one gram of protein has 4 kcal (calories), you also take in energy with protein.

Protein Frequency:

The next step on the pyramid is protein frequency.

Note: Total protein is more important than whether one had four meals or five meals. The more protein you eat in general, you’re going to be having more feedings of protein.

Total protein intake is a by-product of your protein frequency of hitting Leucine threshold multiple times. (Note: To maximize the muscle protein synthesis (MPS) response, ~2.5g of Leucine is required in every meal. This is known as the “Leucine threshold”.

To maximize muscle protein synthesis (MPS) response over the course of a day, it seems that 3–4 evenly spaced meals that surpass the Leucine threshold is a prudent strategy. From current research, it seems that there is a period in which MPS cannot be stimulated again whether or not more protein is consumed. This is termed the refractory period.

Protein Quality:

For muscle growth, choose a protein with a high biological value (a value that measures how well the body can absorb and utilize a protein). Three sources of dairy protein typically used in studies of muscle hypertrophy and strength are bovine milk, casein and whey.  Bovine milk is a highly bio-available source of protein, comprising 80% casein and 20% whey.

When talking about protein quality, mainly we’re talking about the amino acid profile and its bio availability. As much as people don’t like to admit it but you can gain muscle on a vegetarian diet.  However, if you don’t eat any zinc and you don’t eat any iron, you’re not going to be able to train.  Protein foods tend to be high or at least have a decent amount of zinc in them.

Protein Turnover:

If one could switch off muscle protein breakdown completely then everything that one gains, all those spikes of muscle protein synthesis, one will be on the gain train and it will be amazing. Very often we only consider protein synthesis, the gaining side of things, however, protein turnover is constantly happening.

If you’re eating more calories then you’re more likely to have more protein. You reduce the risk of your own protein, muscle protein, breakdown. This essentially is one of the key reasons for a calorie surplus being beneficial.

When you are in a fasted state, you eat and then you go into the postprandial state which is digestion and then you’re absorbing and using and then you go into the post-absorptive state.  Post-absorptive is basically back to fasting when everything has been digested and absorbed. In the post-absorptive state, fat loss tends to occur, but it’s also when protein breakdown will be higher. So if you are less often in the post-absorptive state because you are just eating all the time then you’re going to be breaking down less protein.

Goal is to minimize net muscle protein breakdown while increasing muscle protein synthesis.  Many people believe that if you eat lots of carbs, especially sugary carbs and you’ve got too  much of it in the system and if you don’t use it, as for example if you’ve eaten a big load of  carbs before bed and you don’t use that blood glucose then that just gets converted to fat.

That is not the case. It is really hard to convert carbohydrate molecules to fat molecules. The difference is that if you are eating carbs, they are the preferential fuel source. The body needs to get glucose out of the blood. So at high level the body massively ramps up oxidation and stores it. But any fat that you eat will just go to adipose tissue. And that’s what’s happening.

There’s some decent data to suggest that during periods of overfeeding, bulking, you might want to keep your fat lower and carbs higher to support training, to keep glycogen high, to switch off muscle protein breakdown, and to not cause fat gain.

Protein per Meal: Leucine Threshold:

One simply does not gain without Leucine. There is a study in which eight healthy males consumed whey protein drink, Bolus (25g dose) or Pulse (10 x 2.5g over 3 hours). Despite matched amino acids (AA), Bolus resulted in a spike in blood level of AA and then refractory period whereas Pulse resulted in more sustained blood AA. However, muscle protein synthesis was increased by 95% in Bolus vs. only 42% in Pulse. So, it seems there is a benefit from hitting the Leucine threshold once, waiting and then hitting it again, rather than doing regular topping up with a little or anything like that.

Human Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS) is modulated by extracellular and not intracellular amino acid availability.

Protein Timing:

There are professional body builders who say that if they turned up at the gym without their protein shake, they would just go home. This is something what people don’t need to be doing.

Training has a much bigger impact on your muscle gain than protein shake would have. And secondly, just go home after the gym and have your protein shake.

But if it’s convenient, have it shortly after training. What does shortly mean? It just means nothing or within one minute to sometime afterwards. Early post exercise protein provision is more beneficial in promoting muscle hypertrophy since it is rapidly absorbed when consumed immediately after training.

Practical Takeaways:

We can summarize the following points about Protein Intake For Maximal Hypertrophy (Or Advanced Muscle Gain Techniques From a Nutrition Standpoint)

REGULAR servings of protein (4-6 servings/day) 

During a surplus / maintenance 

✔ Solid Meals 

      • 2-3 x 0.4-0.5g/kg

A recovery shake… 

      • 0.3g/kg 

Plus a slightly larger bolus before bed… 

      • 1 x 0.5-0.6g/kg = 1.8 – 2.4g/kg
      • Or sustained slow release protein e.g. casein 

Stay upper end during a deficit…


Consume 4 to 6 right-sized servings of high-quality protein in appropriate intervals from waking up to going to sleep. However, you also require good carbs and fats in required amounts. One standard daily plan doesn’t work for everyone. I’ll strongly say not to follow any list of points given online about how much protein to eat and when without consulting a well-experienced nutritionist and personal trainer. You need your own nutrition plan as per your specific fitness and body transformation goals and your specific physical and health conditions. Improper nutrition can not only derail you from your goals but can also harm your health.

Please contact me Abhinav to discuss and learn what I and my AbhiFit team in Dubai, UAE can do for you with our nutrition and personal training services to achieve your muscle gain, strength gain, fat loss and figure / physique transformation goals.

Many female and male clients including kids have greatly benefited from Abhinav’s strong experience as a top personal trainer and nutritionist in Dubai, UAE. You can see some of his client transformations here.

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About Author

Abhinav Malhotra

Abhinav Malhotra is an award-winning personal trainer, coach and sports nutritionist in Dubai, UAE. He also offers online services to clients around the world. A personal trainer par excellence, Abhi has worked with the world’s leading fitness chains, supplement brands and founded his own fitness academy in India. He has achieved successes for many clients from all backgrounds and has trained the Indian Army Rugby Team. He is the first International Kettlebell Sport athlete from India.

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