In this article I will do my best to explain the importance of a sufficient protein intake, how it helps us to faster recovery, and to maintain or gain muscle mass. By the end I’ll point out the advantages of the different kinds of protein supplements you can buy. Enjoy!
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Why is protein that important to athletes?
After water, proteins would be first on an ingredient list of the tissues of the human body. Protein turnover is a constent process in the body. They’re continously being broken down, transformed and/or rebuilt. Proteins can also be metabolized for energy, as the other macronutrients, which becomes interesting in endurance sports.
Any unused part of the molecular protein structure, will be excreted from the body. Therefore, proteins must be replaced on a daily basis!
What are proteins?
Proteins consist of a series of amino acids. The amino acids are molecules made of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. Thes amino acids are linked together via peptide bonds to form a protein. The human body can use twenty different amino acids, of which nine are essential, since we can’t produce them ourselves.
To fully benefit from the protein, a sufficient amount of the different amino acids should be present in the food. Some foods, such as meat, eggs and fish can be classified as complete proteins, since they contain all of the essential amino acids in high amounts, whereas plant products such as grains, beans, fruits and nuts are categorized as incomplete proteins, as they fall to deliver sufficient amounts of one or more essential amino acid. It can be a good reason to get the proteins through protein powder of a descent quality, because you can be sure it’s high quality proteins.
How it works
Proteins have an important role in most of the major body functions! They give structure to muscles, regulate the cell functions, help to maintain the acid-base balance and to transport substances throgh the body. It is clear that protein is critical for optimal athletic performance, and that athletes have higher protein needs than their untrained counterparts. Proteins help to increase muscle building capacities, enhance endurance performance and they speed up the recovery after exercise. Protein and amino acids come in several forms. Bars, shakes, powders and pills. Personally I prefer bars cause they are easy to carry, but powder may be more desirable if the price is taken into account.
When to use?
Proteins should be taken throughout the day, but especially after a workout, since it’s a critical nutrient for the post-exercise muscle recovery process. The timing of protein feeding is important. Eating proteins right after exercise will take advantage of the increased blood flow hormonal envirronment. Therfore the consumption should occur within three hours or less of exercise. The faster, the better. The sufficient quantity depends on your bodyweight, but 20g should be enough for most people. Combining proteins and carbohydrate may speed up the recovery even better, that’s why combinations like we see in these supplements are ideal during hard training periods.
Which kind of proteins?
I can be difficult to find the best protein product in a given situation, since there is so many of them out there. Whey and cassein protein are high quality proteins, that contain all essential amino acids for muscle rebuilding and repair. whey protein is broken down at a much quicker pace than cassein, which makes it more desirable as a post workout supplement. On the other hand, cassein can be handy as a late night supplement, since it will slowly be absorbed throughout the night, and give the body a sufficient amount for an ideal recovery overnight. Bedtime Extreme is a great example!
Every athlete should use protein supplements. If one seek to lose weight or maintain a lean muscle mass, Diet whey or Impact whey isolate are ideal, because they are extremely low on carbs and fat. If the goal is to maximize muscle gains, total protein or Impact whey protein will be sufficient and much cheaper. In periods of heavy training loads, and for elite athletes a combination of carbs and proteins will be optimal, such as Recovery XS .
Aim for 20g post workout, but research has shown that as little as 6g can have a significant effect on recovery time.
Cheap product with great impact! If you prefer bars, here is a List
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