Why is Protein Essential After a Workout?
Whether you run, box, cycle, or focus on weights, chances are that you need protein after your workout. Protein is a macronutrient, meaning that it is one of the main nutrients your body needs in large amounts to grow, develop, and repair. In fact, protein should make up about 20-35% of your diet! Proteins are composed of twenty amino acids, nine of which are essential. Essential amino acids are those that the body cannot create and must be obtained through food or supplementation. When the body has all essential and non essential amino acids it is able to carry out its normal body functions and support the organs, tissues, and immune system, as well as the hair, skin, and nails.
So, what happens after a workout and how does this affect your body? Your muscles are tired after a workout. They need to recover so you can be ready for your next session without missing a beat. Consuming the right type of nutrients after your workout, such as protein, can help muscles recover by improving protein synthesis -the process by which you build new proteins to help your body repair. Studies show that immediately after your workout is when your muscles are primed to accept nutrients that can stimulate muscle repair, muscle growth, and muscle strength. Protein ingestion right after your workout also helps facilitate muscle reconditioning and helps improve training efficiency. Although protein synthesis lasts for about 48 hours after you exercise, your post workout nutrition should be taken within 2 hours. If you delay, you decrease the benefits of protein synthesis.
To maximize your gains, make sure you have protein at hand immediately after you finish your workout; ideally, about 20-25g of protein is recommended for your post workout recovery. This can help you improve your body composition, performance, and overall recovery, as well as your bone mass and immune function. However, don’t forget to consume enough protein with each of your main meals, as well as before your workout, to fully e joy the benefits of protein synthesis.