If there’s one food group we automatically lump in with fitness, it’s protein—after all protein builds muscles and helps with muscle recovery. But not all proteins are created equal and you may be wondering when to take whey protein, particularly if you’re using it to meet your fitness goals.
Whey protein is extremely popular in the fitness world these days because it’s a rich source of amino acids and glutathione, the “master antioxidant” but when to take whey protein is not as clear as the benefits it offers.
According to WebMD, you can certainly load up on protein before a workout, but your best bet pre-exercise is going to be in healthy carbs and fats to give you energy. Save the protein for after the workout, says WebMD, in order to maximize your recovery. It recommends 10-20 grams of protein post-workout.
But Mike Roussell, Ph.D. says differently on BodyBuilding.com. According to Roussell, “ingesting protein and amino acids prior to training may be even more beneficial.”
Roussell says that branched chain amino acids can provide your muscles more energy during your workout than just carbs or fats because they don’t get filtered by the liver, but rather head straight into the bloodstream and to the muscles.
“This is key because exercise causes the breakdown and oxidation of BCAAs,” Roussell explains. “Providing BCAAs to working muscles will prevent the need for your body to catabolize the working muscle itself.”
When it comes to whey protein specifically, Marc Perry, C.S.C.S., ACE-CPT told Men’s Fitness that whey protein is ideal post-workout because of its high protein content and quick absorption rate.
Research continues to point to spacing protein consumption throughout the day, ensuring each meal or snack has a protein component. And this just might be your best bet for your workout plans as well. Consume protein as part of your pre-workout meal to enhance your performance. Then also make it a big part of your post workout recovery and you should be meeting and even exceeding your fitness goals.
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