Protein Immediately After Intense Workouts Helps You Recover Faster
Written by Dr. Mirkin
Two recent papers in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (September 2011) show that taking protein during and after exercise helps you recover faster from intense workouts. A third paper, from Denmark, shows that taking protein during exercise does not stimulate muscle recovery until after a person stops exercising. (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, September 2011).
Therefore, the best time to load with protein is immediately after you finish your intense workouts.
THE HARD-EASY PRINCIPLE
To increase strength, speed and endurance, athletes have to exercise intensely enough to damage their muscles. Then when their muscles heal, they are stronger than before the muscles were damaged.
Training for sports is done by taking a workout that is intense enough to cause the muscles to feel a burn during the workout, feeling sore on the next day (DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), then exercising at a relaxed pace for as many days as it takes for muscles to feel fresh again.
This is called the Hard-Easy Principle and is followed to some degree by virtually all competitive athletes.
RECOVERING FASTER MAKES YOU STRONGER AND FASTER
Obviously if an athlete can recover faster, he can do more intense workouts which will make him a better athlete, and taking protein during and after the intense workouts helps an athlete recover faster.
Taking protein before a workout does not increase recovery rate or improve athletic performance.
The first of the studies in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, from McMaster University, showed that a large, single dose of whey protein (25 g) taken immediately after an intense workout helps muscles recover faster than multiple smaller doses (2.5 g) 10 times over an extended period.
The message is to eat lots of protein-containing food immediately after your workout. It does not need to be any special protein supplement; proteins extracted from food are no better than ordinary protein-containing foods.
The second study, from the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, showed that protein containing twice as much of the protein building block (amino acid), leucine hastened muscle healing much faster than a lower dose of leucine.
Leucine is found in the highest amounts in egg whites, dairy products, beef, pork, chicken and fish.
Since fat contains no leucine, athletes should choose the leanest protein sources.
If you are a vegetarian, eat soybeans as they have the highest leucine content of any plant food. Other good sources of leucine include lentils, cowpeas, chickpeas, nuts and seeds (peanuts, almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds flax seeds and so forth). Most fruits and vegetables are low in protein and thus are low in leucine, but some such as asparagus are good sources.
CARBOHYDRATE WITH PROTEIN
Other studies show that taking carbohydrates with the protein helps muscles recover even faster.
Carbohydrates cause the pancreas to release large amounts of insulin which drives the protein building blocks into muscles even faster and hastens recovery even more.
Therefore athletes can recover faster by taking immediately after their most-intense workouts:
*protein (meat, fish, chicken, or corn and beans) plus
*carbohydrates (bakery products, pastas, and fruits).
Train for sports by taking an intense workout, feeling sore on the next day and going at low- intensity for as many days as it takes for your muscles to feel fresh again. Recover faster from your intense workouts by eating foods rich in proteins and carbohydrates immediately after you finish your intense workouts.
Dr. Pinna says:
Many people do not exercise intensely. Nonetheless, protein in the form of meat should be in their diet. All our cells, not just our muscle cells, are composed of protein. Our most important cells, those found between our ears, are also made of protein. Thus, if you are a thinker, a businessman or a marathon runner, you need protein.
As for vegetarians, humans evolved as OMNIVORES. We ate anything we could get, including animals. Our diet requires a little of everything.