Monday, August 12, 2013

Refuel with Protein

Have you ever experienced the dreaded “BONK”?  If you haven’t you are very fortunate. The “BONK” is when you run out of fuel while exercising and even the most normal activities become excruciating difficult and downright painful.  Most often associated with endurance athletes such as runners and bikers, the “bonk” can hit anyone if you don’t fuel properly.

If experiencing the “bonk” isn’t bad enough during exercise, it can sneak up on you while working out the day after a long exercise session. Not only is it important to fuel your body properly for exercise you are about to do, it may be even more important when and how you fuel after exercise that will distract how your body will respond to future workloads.

While there are many elements to proper fueling and hydration, one increasing important fueling strategy revolves around protein consumption within an hour of exercise. Fueling is incredibly important for endurance athletes and the following are some guidelines on protein consumption as outlined on

There are a multitude of beverages and supplements that have been designed to maximize recovery, but food remains the ideal fuel. A nutritious meal after a long workout provides a variety of nutrients vital for health, well-being and recovery.

Consuming nutrients at the right time and in appropriate amounts can take fitness and performance to a new level. The timing of “when” nutrients are consumed can be as important as “what” nutrients are consumed. You’re probably familiar with the importance of carbohydrates for refueling and replenishment, but so should protein rich foods such as lean meats and plant based proteins.

A growing body of evidence suggests that eating foods that are rich in both protein and carbohydrate directly after training can optimize muscle repair. Carbohydrate-rich foods help refuel muscle, but also naturally cause insulin levels to rise. Simply adding protein to your meal or snack helps slow insulin release and muscle breakdown while simultaneously promoting tissue regrowth. 

When it comes to protein, quality is key. Amino acids are protein-building blocks and are either considered non-essential (meaning the body makes them) or essential (meaning you need to get them through your diet). High-quality proteins (like those found in lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, plants and dairy) contain a complete package of essential amino acids. Research indicates that 15 grams of essential amino acids are optimal for muscle growth and it’s as easy as eating four ounces of lean meat. 

The optimal rate at which muscle energy is refueled and tissue repair and building can occur is within 30 to 45 minutes after exercise with 30-40 grams of protein at one sitting. Make refueling part of your training plan and include nutrient-rich sources of protein in your post-exercise meals. Recipes that can be assembled ahead of time or quickly prepared can help you fuel your recovery in time.

A proper refueling strategy can not only chase the “BONK” away, it can give you another excellent work out on successive days.