When Should I Take Protein?
Protein powders are pretty common supplements in the fitness realm, regardless of goals and overall demographic. But, even with all their popularity, there are tons of theories about the best times to take protein supplements. To help clear things up, here are a few well-researched time frames for protein intake to help you reach your goals – whatever they may be.
Your entire life you’ve been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And plenty of research has shown that your first meal of the day can indeed have a major impact on your health and eating patterns for the rest of your waking hours.
The problem, though, is that the standard breakfast just isn’t well-designed. Often consisting of fast-absorbing carbohydrates and fat, the common composition of this initial meal leaves people craving food again in just a few short hours and can lead to unhealthy, energy-sapping blood sugar level. According to recent studies, though, a high-protein breakfast is the key. A meal containing about 35g of protein has been shown to limit food cravings and, therefore contribute to weight loss. The issue with this, though, is that most people just don’t have the time to cook first thing in the morning. And this is where protein supplements become incredibly useful. Use a quality protein powder for your breakfast to get you off to a good start, with limited time invested.
Pre- and Post-workout
Depending on when you workout, your muscle may just not have the fuel available to perform at their best. The pre-workout meal is key for giving your body everything in needs to get the most out of your workout. Protein, especially high-quality options, are composed of amino acids – substances that perform a host of functions in your body. Among these many roles, amino acids help to support muscle movement and nerve impulse – which is pretty important to an effective workout.
But it’s also key to realize that your muscles are quite literally made of protein and that these muscle fibers are damaged during your workouts. In fact, it is your body’s effort to repair and rebuild your muscle fibers that leads to improvements in size, strength and tone. As long as your body has the necessary tools to make those repairs. And this means protein. After you exercise, then, a quick protein-rich meal will insure that your body is able to fully recover from your workout while making sure that you’re prepared for the next one. Fast-absorbing whey is perfect for this post-workout recovery since it will quickly be metabolized and put to use.
Something many exercisers fail to realize is that your muscles do not grow and improve during your workouts – that happens when you’re resting. And by resting, we mean both “not exercising” and (more obviously) sleeping. In fact, the majority of the rebuilding work is done in your sleep and, although it is often thought of as a time of inactivity, your metabolism is still running pretty hot overnight.
But, again, this depends on proper nutrition. Throwing back some protein right before bed makes sure that your body has everything it needs to keep your muscles fed even during this 8 to 10 hour long fast. Casein, which actually forms a sort of protein ball in your stomach, is slowly and gradually digested – giving you a time-released source of protein that is ideal for overnight uses.