One of the essential food groups, protein is also a vital part of a nutritional and balanced diet for athletes, but how much do you need when training and when is the best time to take it?
There are no hard and fast rules for athletes’ protein intake, and much will depend on weight, metabolic make-up, and what you hope to get out of training or exercising.
What is protein, and why do we need it?
Sometimes referred to as the ‘building blocks of life,’ protein helps your body grow and repair. Your muscles, in particular, are made up of protein, but so are other parts of our body, such as your skin and hair.
That’s why it is so essential to incorporate protein into your daily diet, regardless of whether you are in regular training or not. It is recommended that an adult consumes 0.75g of protein per kg of body weight. So, for an adult weighing 70kg, they should be consuming 52.5g of protein every day. This is the amount of protein you should consume to avoid deficiency, but that amount increases if you are exercising regularly.
Intense exercise can pull and tear the muscles, and that is why athletes often need to consume more protein to repair their body after training. If you are training regularly, it is recommended that you consume twice as much as the recommended daily allowance, or RDA, of protein. This will help build your muscles back stronger so they are ready for your next session.
Where Do We Get Protein From?
Protein breaks down into amino acids, which help to build and repair your body. While many foods are sources of protein, not all contain the essential amino acids we require for effective rebuilding and growth. There are nine essential amino acids, and these are found in complete proteins. Meat, dairy, eggs, quinoa and some pulses contain complete proteins.
Protein supplements also help deliver all the amino acids you need to start recovery and rebuilding, and our REGO range is ideal for rapid and comprehensive protein intake.
When Do We Need To Take Protein?
The popular opinion about protein is that it should be consumed directly after exercise or training. This is because it is seen as playing a significant part in recovery and rebuilding.
However, it is not always the case. Protein not only helps to rebuild muscle but can also maintain lean muscle mass.
Many people talk about the metabolic window, which normally occurs 30-60 minutes after intense training or exercise, as the optimum time to consume protein for recovery. However, studies have shown that consuming protein just before training can be just as effective. As long as you consume protein around the time of exercise, either before or after, it can help deliver the recovery you need.
Many nutritionists advise that protein intake be spread throughout the day. If you are regularly training, it is recommended you take on board around 1.5g of protein per kg of body weight.
While we can get a good protein level from the food we eat, you can always top that up with Whey Protein Shake, which can be taken anytime throughout the day.
Protein plays a big part in recovery, and so does rest. The best form of rest is sleep, and even when it’s lights out, you can still get the protein into your body that you need.
Overnight Protein can help to feed your muscles while you get your much-needed, and no doubt, well-earned rest at night. It can help provide a quality sleep while getting to work, building strength and maintaining lean muscle mass.
Besides that, protein can boost your metabolic rate at night, meaning you are burning calories while you sleep.
Snacking on Protein
Another significant benefit of protein is that it can help reduce your calorie intake. We can sometimes pile some additional carbs in a bout of snacking, which can quickly spiral.
Many protein-rich snacks, such as nuts and seeds, can help us feel satisfied without delivering high-calorie content, leading to unnecessary weight gain. Reach for something like our Protein20 which can help nail that hunger and also put you on the path to your daily protein requirement.
Eating protein-rich snacks can encourage weight loss, with research showing that for every gram of protein you take as a snack, you will forego six grams of carbs during your next meal.
Unnecessary calories can usually come in the form of sugar, so a low -sugar protein snack like Whey 20 can help you get protein on board without worrying about additional calories.