Physical activity is good for our health, and it’s even better if we eat the right foods to maximize the benefits of our activity. While all nutrients contribute to good health, dietary protein has specialized benefits for exercise. It’s the perfect fuel for your workout! Learn how to choose a great protein source for optimal exercise performance.
Studies have shown that consuming more leucine in the diet may enhance muscle hypertrophy. This amino acid is involved in the protein synthesis process, which results in muscle growth and contraction. Studies on human subjects have also suggested that increased leucine intake may boost resistance exercise training. However, these studies are limited in terms of number of participants and the duration of the training.
Although it may not seem like it, consuming an extra gram of leucine during an exercise program could help increase muscle protein synthesis. In a recent study, leucine intake led to improved muscle protein synthesis and lower rates of protein breakdown in the body. Leucine is found in whey protein.
A typical adult needs about 17 milligrams of leucine per kilogram of body weight. Therefore, a person weighing 180 pounds should consume 3,186 milligrams of leucine per day. However, bodybuilders and other athletes require significantly more leucine in their diets, ranging from 700 to 3,000 milligrams per serving.
Another important role of leucine in exercise protein is to stimulate the mTOR pathway in the muscle cell. This pathway is responsible for signaling the body to switch to an anabolic state. This is a process that stimulates muscle growth and can be beneficial in recovery after a workout. Leucine is also an important amino acid in preventing muscle decline in injured athletes.
Increasing the amount of whey protein in your diet before and after exercising can be beneficial to muscle health and performance. This form of protein can help your body recover faster from intense exercise and improve force generation. A study conducted by Taylor and colleagues found that the intake of whey protein increased maximal bench press strength significantly compared to a placebo.
Research has shown that whey protein improves whole-body net protein balance, which is required for muscle hypertrophy. This dietary protein is also a valuable supplemental source for athletes who train late at night or do resistance exercises. The researchers determined that athletes who consumed whey protein after exercise showed improved recovery and improved performance in a 12-hour period.
Fast-acting whey protein is usually consumed at least an hour before an intense workout. Alternatively, it can be consumed immediately post-workout. However, it is important to consume whey protein as soon as possible after the workout to maximize its benefits. Delaying whey protein intake can impede muscle growth and result in muscle soreness.
Another benefit of whey protein is its rich content of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). These are three of the nine essential amino acids and are important for preserving muscle mass. The body breaks down a small amount of amino acids to obtain BCAAs, so eating a high amount of BCAAs helps to keep your muscles intact. BCAAs also stimulate protein synthesis and are particularly helpful in preventing muscle breakdown.
There is a wide variety of carbohydrates to choose from for exercise. Some are sweet and high in sugar, while others are high in fibre and contain a lot of nutrients. Eating a piece of fruit or a glass of low-fat chocolate milk is an excellent way to get the right amount of carbohydrates during your workout.
In addition to helping the body maintain its blood sugar levels, carbohydrates also help delay fatigue and restore muscle glycogen. A snack high in carbohydrates is recommended every half hour or so. Likewise, mixed meals with plenty of carbohydrates are a good idea after long workout sessions. The key to effective recovery nutrition is to replenish glycogen stores in your body within 60 minutes of completing an intense training session.
When determining the amount of carbohydrate you need to maintain optimal energy levels before exercise, consider the time of day and intensity of the workout. For example, a 150-pound person would need between five and six grams of carbs for a single hour of moderate exercise. Alternatively, a small apple or a glass of 100% fruit juice can meet that requirement.
If you’re serious about your exercise, it’s important to eat the right mix of carbohydrates and protein. Skimping on carbohydrates can reduce muscle mass and decrease bone density. It may also lead to reduced performance and increased risk of injury.