Taking Protein for Post Workout Recovery

One important way to support your fitness efforts is with good attention to nutrition. Much like your car, if you have one, your body depends on quality fuel to be most efficient. Protein is an important part of the fuel mix. Not only does adequate protein support your fitness activity it also aids in post exercise recovery.

How Does Protein Help?

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When you exercise you break down protein and fibers in your muscles. This breakdown is important for helping your muscles adapt to the physical challenges it must meet to build strength, speed and endurance. When you take protein for recovery your body uses it to repair damage to fibers and prepare your body to improve performance during your next workout session. Taking protein for recovery also repairs cells and tissue, and helps restore energy.

When Should I Take Protein for Recovery?

There is an optimal window when ingesting protein for recovery. Ideally, you want to eat something containing protein within 30 minutes of the end of your workout. Taking protein within this window supports the metabolic process that leads to stronger muscles and better performance.

How Much Protein Do I Need?

According to the CDC about 10-35% of calories consumed should come from sources that provide protein. Where you fit within that range will depend on weight, gender and activity levels. If you are reading food labels and counting protein grams more specific guidelines recommend that women take in about 46 grams per day and men 56 grams.  As a point of reference one egg has about 6 grams of protein, a slice of turkey has about 3 grams and a cup of yogurt has about 10 grams.

Most people get sufficient supplies of protein through diet and do not require supplements unless they are on very restrictive diets or are engaged in heavy duty weight training. In short, you need to adapt protein intake for your individual needs and fitness goals.

What Kinds of Foods Contain Protein?

Examples of protein include nuts, seeds, fish, poultry, beef, tofu, and dairy. Go for something like low-fat chocolate milk or turkey slices wrapped around string cheese after a workout.

Protein types

High quality – also called complete proteins are animal based. Think meat, milk, eggs, and cheese. High quality proteins provide all the essential amino acids the body needs.

Incomplete proteins – these do not contain all the amino acids and are best consumed with other incomplete proteins. Taken together the proteins – think legumes, seeds and nuts -are complementary and can provide all the essential amino acids the body needs.

Try to consume incomplete protein in the same meal rather than singly when possible. If that is not possible plan to consume incomplete proteins on the same day to get the benefits from essential amino acids. Don’t forget and leave incomplete proteins hanging as you plan your meals

Taking protein for recovery is an easy way to support your fitness goals. Protein helps your muscles adapt to the stress they endure during exercise. As protein is synthesized muscles become stronger and more efficient.  Another bonus? More muscle means a more efficient metabolism and ultimately a trimmer waist line. Got milk?