Compared to sedentary individuals, you need more protein in your daily diet when you exercise on a regular basis. How much more depends on the type and intensity of your workouts; for example, competitive weightlifters require more dietary protein than distance runners. While consuming 0.8 grams of this nutrient per kilogram of body weight meets your daily needs if you are relatively inactive, you may require up to 2.0 grams of high-quality protein
each day for every kilogram you weigh if you engage in high-intensity resistance exercise. In addition to total quantity, however, the timing of your protein consumption in relation to your workout can influence the effectiveness of your fitness routine.
Intense workouts take a toll on your muscles. Muscle protein breaks down during exercise and undergoes repair during post-workout recovery. In addition, synthesizing new muscle fibers occurs between workout sessions. Timing your intake to meet your body’s needs for amino acids, the building blocks of protein, allows you to optimize both muscle building and repair. Directly following a workout, your muscles are primed to begin the repair process and to incorporate amino acids into new muscle fibers. In addition to consuming protein at regular mealtimes, eating a small amount of protein – 5 to 10 grams – just before and a moderate amount – 15 to 20 grams – just after you work out supplies you with the muscle-building nutrients you need to maximize your gains.
Types of Protein
High-quality protein provides all the essential amino acids your body is unable to synthesize. Food-based protein sources are preferable to supplements, as they also contribute necessary nutrients such as carbs, healthy fats,
vitamins and minerals. Animal proteins, including meat, fish, poultry and milk products, are rich in high-quality proteins, and you can also get them from mixing plant-based protein foods, which may be lacking one or more amino acid; for example, peanut butter on a whole-wheat bagel or beans with rice. Milk products can be a good choice for post-workout nutrition because they contain a large proportion of branched-chain amino acids. These amino acids are particularly effective at stimulating new muscle synthesis and can help reduce fatigue and enhance muscle fiber recovery.
Protein is not the only food component that matters when considering nutrient timing. Carbohydrates play a significant role in fueling your muscle tissue during an exercise session, and you can therefore benefit from including carbs along with protein in your pre-workout snack. After you exercise intensely, glycogen in your muscle tissue becomes depleted, and including plenty of carbohydrates in the food you eat just after working out helps replenish this storage form of muscle starch.