Getting enough protein is an important piece of good nutrition, helping your body build and repair muscles after a workout. But did you know that when you eat your protein can actually affect how your body absorbs it? We’re here to help you make a well-informed decision on whether to eat your protein before or after a workout.
Why You Need Protein
No matter how you’re exercising, taking in enough fuel for your body is crucial. Getting in lots of protein is especially important however if you’re doing weight training. Weight training creates microtears in your muscle fibers, and protein helps the body build them back up to be even stronger than before when you’re at rest. While cardio workouts are best for burning calories, you should take in small amounts of protein for these workouts to help with muscle recovery.
Some people avoid eating before their workout, for fears of it making them feel sick or less able to get the most from their workout. However, eating protein-rich food before your workout has some great benefits, and some studies have found that it can actually improve athletic performance by fueling the body with energy. Ideally, you should take in a healthy amount of carbs, fat, and protein before you hit the gym.
When it comes to pre-workout protein, timing is everything. It’s best to eat 2-3 hours before your workout so that food has time to properly digest, but we know that isn’t always possible for everyone. As a rule of thumb, the closer you eat to the time of your workout, the smaller your meal should be. If you’re eating less than 2 hours before your workout, sometimes a protein shake is the best option to avoid stomach discomfort.
Some examples of pre-workout, protein-rich meals include:
- Whole Grain Toast with Nut Butter and Banana Slices
- Protein Smoothies Made with Almond Milk, Berries, Leafy Greens, or Peanut Butter
- Oats with Chia Seeds, Almonds, and Berries
- Lean Protein, like chicken, with Roasted Vegetables and Quinoa
Now, we can’t underestimate the importance of getting protein after you’ve hit the gym. Taking in the right amount of protein after your workout is actually just as important as your pre-workout meal. The reason being is that your body is able to rebuild glycogen after your exercise. Glycogen acts as the main source of fuel for your muscles during a workout, and after strenuous activity, it can become depleted. Eating a protein-rich meal after strenuous exercise helps replenish this protein so that the muscles can continue to grow strong.
Studies have found that post-workout meals are the most effective when eaten within 45 minutes after you’ve stopped exercising. So, as soon as you possibly can, eat a combination of protein and carbs to get the most benefits. Doing so will help you make the muscle gains you’re putting in the hard work for.
Here’s some inspiration for good post-workout meals:
- Avocado Toast with Scrambled Eggs
- Tuna Salad on Whole Grain Bread
- Greek Yogurt with Berries and Nuts
- Whey Protein Shake
- Hard-Boiled Eggs with a Side of Fruit
Remember, nourishing your body both before and after exercise is the best way to build strong muscles. Avoid hitting the gym until you have a protein-rich pre-workout meal and have your post-workout meal planned for when you get back.
Reach your fitness goals, and get on track to being your best you yet! At TruFit Athletic Clubs, we offer personalized one-on-one training and meal plans to help you build strength and muscle, and feel great doing it.