Recovery is one of the most important aspects of exercise. Everything from how much you sleep to what you eat needs to be taken into consideration. Consuming protein after your workout is among one of the most important. So many people participate in high intensity exercise and then don’t consume post workout protein.
After exercise, your muscles are fatigued and depleted of its natural energy stores. Your muscles are broken down and need to be built back up again. The soreness you feel the day or two after exercise is due to small tears in the muscles fibers. These tears come from extensively working that muscle during your workout. These tears are also what allow your muscles to grow larger and stronger for your next workout. Your muscles contain protein, so in order for your body to repair these tears, you need to ingest protein. This is why post workout protein is so important to consume.
The reason you want to consume your protein post workout is so that it gets into your system as fast as possible. Studies show that the best time to consume post workout protein is within 30 minutes of finishing your workout. The max time to wait is 2 hours post workout. This is because your body’s metabolism speeds up both during and post workout. Within 2 hours is when the metabolic rate is at its fastest. This increase in metabolic rate can remain for up to 24 hours depending on the type of exercise. You want to take advantage of your increased metabolic rate when it comes to ingesting protein. The reason you want to consume your post workout protein as soon as possible is because your body does not efficiently digest protein. A major portion of your protein intake never leaves your digestive system.
The recommendation for protein intake for someone who participates in high intensity exercise is the same recommendation for athletes. These groups should consume at least 1.5 times their weight in kilograms, in grams of protein. For example, there are 2.2 pounds in a kilogram, so a 200-pound man is 91 kg, so he should consume at least 137 grams of protein per day. That is the bare minimum protein requirement for that man, so a little more wouldn’t hurt.
Consuming post workout protein will not only help cut down on that soreness after a workout, but it will also help you recover faster. Whether you have a protein bar or a protein shake of some kind, be sure to bring it with you so you can drink it on the way home from your workout!
Tony Milano, CPT