by Andrew Richardson uploaded 11th August 2013

The definition of a protein is “A large molecule composed of one or more chains of amino acids in a specific order; the order is determined by the base sequence of... nucleotides in the gene that codes for the protein. Proteins are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body's cells, tissues, and organs; and each protein has unique functions. Examples are hormones, enzymes, and antibodies”. This is referenced from 


We get our proteins from a range of sources such as milk, fish, eggs, nuts, beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, protein shakes and BCAA’s (Branch Chained Amino Acids). 

Proteins are made up of 20 different amino acids. These are the naturally occurring amino acids which we would get from our foods such as nuts, fish, turkey or beef etc. 

An amino acid is defined as “Any of a class of 20 molecules that are combined to form proteins in living things. The sequence of amino acids in a protein and hence protein function are determined by the genetic code”. This was sourced from 

The Amino Acids are divided into two categories, Essential and Non-Essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are amino acids which the body cannot make and has to be supplemented in the athlete’s diet. Non-Essential amino acids are the opposite as they can be made by the body. Essential amino acids can be found in meats such as fish, beef, pork, lamb or in nuts.

Amino acids are needed in an athletes diet so they can help muscles grow and recovery after training. I take amino acids in the form of PhD BCAA’s during and after workouts. They help my muscles recover and grow but more importantly stops the muscles feeding off themselves. This is known as a catabolic state and it is defined as “A catabolic state means that your body is breaking down tissue. Whenever you workout, whether it's cardio or weightlifting, you're causing tiny tears in your muscle. The longer and harder you workout, the more damage you'll cause to your muscle tissue”. 

No one wants their body to go into a catabolic state because this is your body feeding off your muscles to fuel your workout. The amino acids prevent this from happening. The opposite of catabolic is anabolic and it is defined as “An anabolic state means that your body is building or repairing tissue. When you rest, your body goes into damaged muscle tissue and begins repairing it. It's during rest, not exercise, that you actually put on all of your size”.

The anabolic state occurs after a workout when you are recovering. As soon as you have finished your workout take your amino acids, your proteins and carbohydrates to refuel your body. An anabolic state can last as long until DOMS of that muscle has stopped- this usually is 1-3 days. Both of these fore mentioned definitions where taken from 

This following information was sourced from                       as I wanted to know more about the purpose of BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids). I discovered that BCAA’s consist of 3 essential amino acids called Leucine, Iso-Leucine and Valine. Humans cannot survive unless these amino acids are present within our diets. Together they comprise 1/3 of human tissue. Studies have shown that BCAA’s help to stimulate muscle protein synthesis (muscle growth and production) and inhibit its breakdown. BCAA’s are vital to protein synthesis which is needed to build muscle and to reduce muscle damage. BCAA’s have both powerful anabolic and anti-catabolic effects on the body. When we use BCAA’s we are promoting faster recovery which leads to faster progression in strength gains which is what every athlete wants.

This is the nutritional information of my PhD BCAA’s. I only take 5 a day as I feel that’s all I need (15 is the maximum amount per day).

After my workouts with my amino acids I also take a protein shake. A protein shake is known as a sports supplement which is defined as “legal additions to an athlete’s diet. They are legal because the sporting bodies do not feel their use is harmful to health”. This definition was referred from the Edexcel PE Textbook. 

To achieve my goals, I need a high source of protein to repair the damaged muscle fibres caused by strenuous weight training. The protein repairs the microscopic tears within the muscles and makes them stronger so I can lift more weight. I take my proteins in the form of supplements such as protein shakes, meats and nuts. It is good to get a range of protein sources as each protein source has other benefits, for example fish which have omega 3 oils which are every good for the joints, and nuts which contain good fats.

The protein shakes I am currently taking are PhD Strength and Mass Protein and I am taking SiS (Science in Sport) Whey Protein. I use the SiS for my cardiovascular days and PhD for my weight training days. My personal reasoning for this is because the PhD contains a lot more useful proteins, carbohydrates and BCCA’s which are needed to repair the muscles and restore my depleted energy supplies. The SiS contains little fat which is great as the aim for my cardiovascular days is to burn as much calories as possible (this is to recue my body fat percentage). So taking a protein that contains little fat helps me to achieve this goal.

I take 2 scoops of protein with 500ml of milk after every workout. I can mix the 2 scoops with water but it doesn’t taste that nice, but with milk, the drink contains more protein and essential fats which are good for you. 

As I have mentioned earlier, when we train we are damaging the muscle fibres. Small tears are created and these tears cause the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) effect the next day. These tears are inflamed after training as blood is being sent a round these tears with the nutrients to start repairing them. By having a high protein diet this will aid the recovery process. DOMS will last 1-3 days depending on how high the intensity of the workout. When this process is repeated a number of times, within a few weeks your strength levels will increase due to progressive overload through your training. This will occur due to sensible training and an effective nutrition plan to help the growth of the muscles.

To further enhance the recovery process I use compression clothing. This is thermal clothing such as Canterbury, Adidas, Under Armour or Skins clothing. These brands all have different names for their products but all of their clothing does the same job- aid with the recovery process for the athlete. 

The clothing compresses the skin, as it acts like another layer of skin. This extra layer increases venous return, helps to remove lactic acid (due to an increased venous return) which reduces the effect of DOMS. I use Skins compression clothing after each of my workouts. This is immediately after and a few days after as well to further enhance the recovery process. 

My chosen sport of Powerlifting requires a high level of protein due to the demands the sport places upon my body. This is why I need to have a high percentage of my diet consisting of protein, so I can put on muscle mass and repair damage muscle tissues from heavy weight training. Powerlifting requires a high level of protein due to the demands the sport places upon it. With a suitable level of protein combined with compression clothing and sports massages I can recover quicker and progress my fitness levels faster. 

I personally think what you do after training is just as important as what you do during training. Your training has to be specific to your sport so I do powerlifting training to compete in Powerlifting events. I then have to eat correctly and recover effectively for my training to create physiological adaptations so I can improve my physical performance. I will not be using proteins as an energy source because Powerlifting is not an endurance event and I will not be depleting my energy stores that low. This is because I will be using proteins for muscle growth and repair.





Andrew Richardson

Proteins Why Are They Important


Andrew is an 18 year old student at Coleraine Academical Institution. Andrew holds the world records in the squat and deadlift at -90kg T3 and is one of the brightest young talents in the country. He aims to pursue a degree in Sports Science.


Andrew also operates as a trainer and coach out of Coleraine, Co.Londonderry

Phone 07747303084 mobile.


Trains at Coleraine Health and Fitness, Coleraine University and Coleraine Academical Institution (preferred choice)