Mostly everyone in the fitness world knows that protein plays a key role in muscle building and repair. However, protein isn’t only good to take post-workout when the muscles have been torn down, but it is a key ingredient in a pre-workout capacity as well.
The body does not store protein for later use like it does fat and other substances. Therefore, the timing of when you take protein in relation to your exercise program is essential in reaping the rewards of its consumption.
Let’s look at the benefits of protein in both pre-workout and post-workout functions.
Pre-Workout Protein Benefits
Protein not only acts as a building block for muscle fiber, but it also a primary ingredient used for muscle contraction. Therefore, in order to get the best use of your weight lifting program, protein is needed for full and powerful muscle contractions during your workouts.
There are 20 amino acids which work together to form protein molecules, half of which are synthesized by the body. The other half (or actually nine) must be provided by consuming amino acid rich foods or supplements. Several quick sources containing these essential amino acids are eggs, beef jerky, yogurt and whey protein.
Other important muscle building blocks are branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) which help increase the body’s production of synthesized proteins as well as hinder the degradation of protein molecules within the body. Whey protein shakes are popular with those active in exercise routines because they are a rich source of BCAAs and are in liquid form, thereby allowing the protein to be more quickly and easily digested.
Protein has to be produced by the body. Therefore, the amino acids need to be consumed, digested and distributed throughout the bloodstream to the cells before protein is made within the cells. Consuming protein about 20 minutes prior to an exercise program will ensure that the necessary proteins will be present for use during your workout.
Consuming protein-rich foods pre-workout ensures your muscles are provided the essential protein molecules which help to preserve muscle mass during strength training programs. Also, since the necessary protein is present for muscle fiber repair, muscles are stimulated to break down more readily.
Taking protein pre-workout also helps with body fat loss. Your metabolic rate is increased by taking protein pre-workout. Studies show that subjects who took protein before workouts increased their metabolic rates by 8% over those who only ingested carbohydrates (a 3% increase). Not only is metabolism elevated during the workout, but it remains elevated for a full 24 hours afterward.
Post-Workout Protein Benefits
Protein taken post-workout also has its place in muscle mass growth and recovery. Muscle is not grown in the gym. The process of muscle fiber repair and growth takes place during times of rest after the workouts are over. Again, since the body does not store the amino acids necessary for producing protein, ingestion of these vital elements is needed post-workout so the body has the building blocks available to properly recover.
In order to achieve a proper bodybuilding workout, muscles must be worked to failure. This means that the muscle fibers are broken down with damage also occurring to the bones and other cells during the process. Bodybuilders, athletes and others participating in weightlifting programs should consume between 20 and 45 grams of protein after each workout for proper body repair, growth and recovery.
Carbohydrates and other nutrients contained in a protein shake also help to replenish energy reserves lost through exercising. Such shakes also, along with a balanced nutritious diet, help you to meet your weight loss goals by filling you up with nutrients instead of unhealthy meals and snacks.