So whether you’re new to lifting and exercise or have been in the biz for a while, you would most likely have heard the importance of consuming enough protein in your diet in order to maintain muscle. Protein is an important macro in our diet, not just for the calories that it provides but also because it aids in repairing and maintaining our body and it’s functions.
So what is protein and how can you make your intake more purposeful?
High-protein foods come mostly from your meats: chicken, fish, turkey, beef etc but can also be found in foods such as eggs, beans and cheeses. Oh and of course protein supplements. Now a good strategy in order to maximise muscle size and boost recovery, is to spread out your protein intake throughout the day and to use a “sandwich-type” intake around your workout. For example, divide your protein up into three meals and two snacks per day (or however many meals you are consuming). AND, on your training days, he sure to intake some of that protein shortly before a workout and within 60 minutes of finishing your workout to optimise recovery.
So how much protein do I need to eat per day?
On any given day, we break down and reuse about 300–400 grams of protein! That’s more than most of us need on a daily basis, but we can get away with eating less because we get some by recycling proteins in our body. The protein in our food gets broken into amino acids, which are then used to build up, maintain and repair our vital organs. Experts suggest roughly 0.8g – 1.5g of protein for every kilo of body weight, depending on your activity level.
Now to build muscle, our body demands a higher rate of muscle buildup than breakdown, so you need to have enough amino acids within the body. Strength-training exercises create minor tears in your muscle fibers, requiring them to rebuild, This means shortly after a weights session, the muscles you’ve worked on need to rebuild themselves, and therefore become more receptive to nutrients from the bloodstream.
It’s believed you have a 90 minute window, before and after exercise to flood your muscles with the nutrients they need to rebuild themselves. Why? Well in short, we don’t have a specific way to store amino acids like we do fat and carbs so we need to have them available to use at these crucial times. Pairing carbs with protein helps your muscle cells refuel and stimulates insulin to support muscle growth, which is why spreading your protein intake throughout your meals during the day gives your body a reliable stream of amino acids to draw on for healing and repair.
What to Snack on Pre- and Post-Workout?
Eating a light pre- and post-workout snack with protein and carbs ensures you have the right nutrients to build strength and muscle. Most reasearch says that 20 grams of protein is a decent serving suggestion; however, you may benefit from more (or less) depending on your genetics, body composition, lifestyle and fitness level.
Now let’s get real- we dont always want to be eating chicken, brown rice and broccoli that’s for sure. Even the most dedicated are still going to crave something sweeter at the best of times. Now unfortunately, not many “sweeter things” contain the amount of protein needed for a pre or post workout meal. That’s when protein supplements come into play. As much as I am a huge advocate of supplements, it is important that you are using them as exactly that- supplements! They are not meal replacements and they need to be enjoyed in partnership with a clean, whole foods nutrition plan! Now I personally consume a variety of different supplements each and every day. I take a preworkout, amino acids intra workout, a post workout protein shake with creatine and also casein powder too. However- I am working with a coach and my supplements (and food/training) are assessed and adjusted under supervision.
Should you want some supps advise in regards to your training or diet, please feel free to contact myself or the boys at Bodybuilding Oz and we would do our best to point you towards the best possible product for you and your goals.