Amino acids are one of the most important building blocks in muscle growth. Many companies in the fitness industry produce supplements to enhance your daily protein intake before and after you exercise. Timing your protein intake correctly can have significant benefits for your exercise routine depending on the type of exercise and your goals.
Lack of Protein
If you do not consume any protein before or after your workout, you may be contributing to muscle degradation. Every time you run, lift weights or perform muscle straining exercise, your muscle tissue is broken down. In response to this breakdown in muscle tissue, your body sends amino acids and other nutrients to the damaged muscles to facilitate repair and growth. Failure to provide your muscles with any protein before or after you workout can significantly hamper their ability to recover from a workout, particularly if it is intense exercise.
Timing of Protein
When you consume protein can greatly impact how much it aids in muscle recovery. One 2006 Victoria University study overseen by Paul Cribb found that consuming a protein supplement before and after a workout can improve your strength and muscle quality, compared with taking the same supplement in the morning and at night. After 10 weeks of protein supplementation, subjects that took protein before and after their workouts outperformed the second group in the bench press, squat and deadlift exercises.
Suggested Daily Intake
Although protein is an essential macronutrient that your body needs to recuperate from exercise, it is possible to consume too much in a single day. Excessive protein in your system is likely to be excreted as waste or become stored as fat. Nutritional Supplements in Sports and Exercise by Douglas S. Kalman suggests that you consume somewhere between 1.2 and 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight per day depending on whether you exercise is for muscular endurance, such as running, or for power, such as heavy weightlifting.
Registered dietician Katie James recommends that you try to get all of your daily protein from whole food sources rather than supplements if you can. Foods like nuts, low-fat milk and fish are excellent sources of protein that deliver essential amino acids along with other nutrients your body needs to recover from a workout. Additionally, James states that the average American adult consumes more protein than he needs in his daily diet, so additional supplementation may be unnecessary for you.
- Purdue University: Effects of Supplement Timing and Resistance Exercise on Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy; Paul J. Cribb and Alan Hayes
- Nutritional Supplements in Sports and Exercise; Douglas S. Kalman, MS, RD, CCRC, FA et al
- University of Nebraska: Nutrition: The Competitor's Edge
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.