Protein Is King: Choose and Time It Wisely
If you’re a committed exerciser or athlete, then you know that you need to include protein-rich foods in your daily diet. Protein is king, it keeps you feeling full and it’s crucial to building muscles. We now know that a high protein diet can help you to limit consumption of refined, sugary foods, and it also supports weight loss. It is important to choose the right types of protein-rich foods, and to time those feedings to sync with your workout. Timing your protein meals will help you to perform optimally during your workout and allow you to recover after your workout.
Your list of protein sources should include: Lean meats, seafood, beans and legumes, soy foods like tempeh and tofu, low fat or fat free dairy, eggs, nuts and seeds. The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) recommends that individuals who work out on a regular basis consume 1.2 – 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. You can also use the formula 0.5-0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Guideline suggest that protein should be about 30-35% of your daily diet, though if you choose to follow a higher protein diet, your daily percentage of protein may be higher than the formula guidelines. Consider meeting with a sports nutritionist to determine your dietary needs and a menu plan that takes into account specific exercise and weight goals.
A healthy approach to protein intake is to figure out your total number of grams of protein daily using one of the formulas as a guideline, and then split the amount among three meals and one or two snacks. Individuals who work out in the morning can also “split” their breakfast and eat half about 30 minutes before the workout and the rest after the workout. One suggestion is to eat a banana or apple with some peanut butter before the workout, or a small Greek yogurt with some berries beforehand, and then a smoothie with protein powder or a hard-boiled egg and some veggies, post workout.
Research suggests that pre-exercise protein helps to increase lean muscle mass and that helps to increase your overall strength. That pre-workout protein also helps with muscle recovery and growth.