Knowing when you should eat is as important as knowing what to eat. While working out and getting proper sleep are the other two building blocks of a healthy lifestyle, eating plays a central role in how well our body can do the other two.
Without all three working together, it’s impossible to make the most out of your fitness regiment. What you decide to eat and when can either greatly help you be healthier or unhealthier.
If you’ve read anything about working out or exercise, one of the most touted sources of energy that is heralded as the top priority when composing a healthy diet is Protein.
Many people don’t know what protein does or why exactly it’s important, but in this article, we will cover proteins and when you should eat them to get the maximum benefits.
What Do Proteins Do?
Proteins are at their most basic level one of the best energy sources the body has available. They are effective in providing long-lasting energy with little cost and are usually easily processed in the body with little amounts of strain.
Unlike carbohydrates, protein also plays a role in how the body repairs itself, helping muscle growth which means a better functioning healthier better-formed body.
One protein gram is equivalent to between 3 to 5 calories. This means that compared to fats which have around eight calories per gram, they’re a much more accessible to burn source which means less time in which they can be converted into fat if the body is burning calories at an effective rate.
When Should You Eat Proteins?
The hardest part of making the most of your protein consumption goes beyond just finding the easiest way to get it into your diet. Taking protein at the right time can raise the ability of your body to process it by as much as 35%.
Protein taken too late does little to avoid the breakdown of muscle that is caused by exerting your muscles without nutrition and the subsequent storage of fat to compensate.
Essentially, there are four periods of the day that require a higher amount of protein intake to avoid this “fattening up”.
- When You First Wake Up
- An Hour Before Your Workout
- Right After Your Workout
- Before Bed
These are periods that it is important to load up on protein. When you first wake up, your body has just come out of a starvation period and is keen to get your metabolism started.
Drinking water and getting in an early load of protein will prevent your body from drawing on the wrong energy source.
Studies have shown that eating an hour before your workout a moderate amount helps to keep your energy levels high during your workout process itself, helping your body to begin repairing as it is training.
The next time is the 30-45 minutes right after a session. During this period, your body is completely ready to draw on whatever energy source available.
While an arduous workout may make it hard to eat directly after for some, this is when it’s important to get your largest amount of protein. Your body will draw on this for hours to come, and when mixed with fiber will keep you fuller for longer.
The last time you should do a protein load is right before bed. It doesn’t have to be a massive amount, just enough for your body to process during sleep.
Many experts tout waking up and eating as a way to up your body on vital nutrients, but it is a poor choice.
Your body needs continuous sleep devoid of breaks to completely heal. Hence, simply eating before bed a light snack of nuts or light fish is perfect for satiating your stomach and fitness needs without doing damage to your progress.
What Is Proper Protein Dosage?
While protein dosage ranges depending on who you ask, there are a few general rules of thumb that can help you find the proper dosage for your body.
With anything related to fitness, it’s important to keep track of how you feel, and what results increased protein intake has on your body and workout.
The two general rules of thumb for protein dosing comes in the form of two statements:
- It’s important to consume between 29% and 32% of your body’s calories in protein form
- Protein intake should be roughly between half to the one gram per pound equivalent of your body weight depending on your goals and how your body processes it
How To Dose Proteins During Off Days
The easiest way to dose protein during off days is to maintain your protein intake levels. The hardest part of the regularly dosing protein is finding the best delivery method. Some choose to use supplements, while others prefer to use food only.
On off days, build your diet to account for your cardio or rest period while not allowing a build up of carbohydrates. Keep your sugar consumption low as well so that your body doesn’t rely on the quick and easy to burn glucose opposed to the protein as well.
If you are considering finding alternatives to supplement your protein intake, it can be as simple as picking key foods that you can easily ingest without the need for much preparation.
Proper protein dosing can come in the form of foods that you enjoy that have high protein, or you can find it just as easily in the form of a supplement.
More and more athletes, regular exercisers, and trainers are taking to using supplements ontop of their regular eating plan to help fill in gaps in their diet that hurt their results.
If you are struggling to properly measure and dose your protein intake due to a busy schedule or difficulty measuring your intake, consider using a supplement.
In any case, it’s essential to properly know when to ingest your protein to maximize the protein synthesis process while avoiding the negatives of muscle breakdown. It can be the difference between up to 43% more gains or no change at all.