Whenever people engage in a conversation about their workout routine or eating habits, it doesn’t take long for protein to get mentioned. Everyone who is anyone knows that protein is essential for muscle growth, but do they really get the “why” and “how?”
Let’s take a look and see why this macronutrient is so important for building strong bodies, and how we can use it to our advantage.
When we perform any kind of resistance training our muscles get broken down. This requires amino acids (the building blocks of protein) to help repair and build our muscles to be stronger.
After a workout our muscles are primed (read: starving) for protein and there is a window of opportunity to promote muscle growth. Some people like to skip a meal after a training session and feel that they are benefitting themselves, when really they are missing out on a great chance to rebuild their body.
One strategy used commonly is to eat half a meal before your workout and the other half afterwards. It can be a good idea to incorporate a little carbohydrate as well. Carbohydrates will raise insulin levels which slows protein breakdown and speeds muscle growth. Also, you won’t be using stored protein for energy. That would be a waste of precious muscle-building power, and we don’t want that.
One study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, pinpointed 20 grams as the best amount of post-workout protein to maximize muscle growth. It may not hurt to focus on an overall daily goal at first so you can get your feet wet.
There are some easy ways to get protein before and after your training session. I wrote an article a while back about quick and simple ways to get more protein in your day. I recommend giving it a quick read.
People often settle for protein shakes as a way to consume protein after a workout. Whey protein is great as it can get to your muscles quickly, however you can definitely get protein from whole food sources as well. Not everyone is game for supplements.
Eating the proper foods is essential to growing, or even maintaining our body. Make sure you eat adequate protein in order to replenish and rebuild your muscles after a good workout. Treat your body like a temple and your body will treat you well in return.
P.S. Women, don’t be afraid to follow this advice as well. Building muscle takes a ton of work and will not happen overnight. You will not get “bulky.” Read more about that here.
How do you like to get your protein?
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