If you’ve read any of the recent blogs posted by me in the last three months you might notice a repeating theme or mantra. That would happen to be up your protein intake! In the blog about using caffeine to increase your exercise efficiency and results, I mentioned having coffee with some protein pre-workout to prevent your body from breaking down your muscles. In my blog about keeping a watchful eye on your nutrition, I mentioned it again as being a major building block in the human body and gave you a few links to how you can calculate how many grams of protein you need per day.
Everything we do, active or passive, requires energy in order to complete the process. Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the caloric representation of your energy requirements. When we perform activities throughout the day the amount of calories the body uses increases. In order to fuel these processes the body uses fat stored on our bodies, carbohydrates ingested in food, protein and even our muscles to perpetuate things, essentially (if it needs to) your body consumes itself.
What?! My body is using my muscles as fuel? In short yes. Your muscles themselves are comprised of protein which breaks down into amino acids and other little bits. When other things like carbohydrates are not as readily available or your glycogen stores are depleted (like after your super intense PACK workout or one-on-one session) your body turns to these little building blocks to…well…build. If you have none of these building blocks available, post-workout, your body starts to scavenge these building blocks from your muscles, this is called catabolism. This happens to more people who work out than you would think. When someone comes in a few days after a grueling workout and tells me, “Oh man, I was sore for days after that one,” I think one thing…you, my friend, were in a catabolic state. You need more protein and carbs.”
When you are working out you are doing two things; 1) using energy stored in your body and the food you have eaten and 2) creating micro-tears in your muscle fibers that will eventually be filled in by more muscle that will be created when you rest and refuel. Here is where the problem comes in: when most of us finish an exercise we say, “Man that was great! I got my butt kicked!” Then we head home which is anywhere between five and thirty minutes away. The process of protein synthesis cannot happen without the building blocks needed and if you aren’t building muscle you are breaking it down. Not a believer yet? Read this article and tell me what you think. Still not convinced? Okay, try this one. Proper nutrient timing will allow our body to go into and stay in a muscle building (anabolic) state longer.
If your goal is to cut body fat percentage then you want to wait a bit after your workout to ingest carbs. When a person ingests carbohydrates (sugars, starches…all carbohydrates) there is a response in the human body that spikes insulin levels. I’ll save you all the super scientific talk about carbs, insulin, High glycemic indices, etc. but if you are interested take a look at this site. The gist of it is this…if your goal is to get lean and drop body fat then you do not want to ingest carbohydrates (specifically sugar and simple carbs) after your workout, you still want to get the protein into your system but save the carbs for meal time.
Workout days make sure to have a pre and post-workout plan, here is an example
Pre-workout (30mins-1 hour before)
1 scoop whey protein (20 g)
Post-workout (30 min max)
2 scoops whey protein mixed in water; follow with a whole food meal an hour later.