Help muscles heal faster? 3 things to know about post-workout protein
Muscle fatigue, soreness, and exhaustion: These side effects are considered common after a tough workout; after all, no pain, no gain. But that doesn’t mean you have to endure the discomfort.
A simple solution can combat these post-workout issues and allow your body to repair quickly and perform at its best.
To bounce back quicker: Know the 3 golden rules of post-workout nutrition
In today’s society where we value health and wellness, protein shakes are popular. Those that offer a combination of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals live up to their hype. To get the best results, it’s crucial to understand how the contents of a protein shake promote muscle growth and recovery — and why timing is a key factor.
“This shake is the best tasting of any of the protein shakes that I have ever tried. I mix it with mostly water. I add green powder, and it keeps me full all morning.” – Linda S. Here’s where to find it.
It may help to know that:
1. Recovery suffers when glycogen gets depleted.
Imagine muscles are a flashlight. A flashlight relies on batteries to function correctly, and it will continue to emit light as long as the battery has enough power. As the battery starts to die, and the light begins to dim, the power source must be replaced in order to restore full function.
Our muscles function similarly. They rely on glycogen as their primary source of power during exercise. Once these energy stores are depleted, muscles become fatigued. Refueling the body to promote glycogen repletion and protein synthesis is key to optimum muscle recovery.1
2. Carbs replenish glycogen – and timing matters.
When glycogen stores are drained, carbohydrates must be made available for the body to synthesize glycogen and restore muscles. Exercising results in an increased sensitivity to insulin, which allows for greater glucose uptake in muscles.1 This insulin sensitivity declines following a workout, so the timing of carbohydrate consumption is essential.
Delaying carb intake has been shown to reduce muscle glycogen stores compared to immediate use.2 Further, waiting several hours after exercise to consume carbohydrates shows a 50-percent decrease in glycogen synthesis.1 It’s recommended to refuel the body with carbohydrates within two hours of exercise for optimum results.2
Make slow recovery times a thing of the past. Shake up a 2-in-1 fermented protein.
3. Combining carbs + protein aids in muscle repair.
Another contributing factor to muscle recovery is protein availability. Muscle fibers, or myofibrils, become damaged as muscles are worked. The splitting of myofibrils allows for muscle growth, but the body must have an adequate supply of protein for repair.3 Consuming protein after a workout increases muscle protein synthesis, allowing for this necessary tissue repair.
Since exercise increases amino acid uptake, protein ingestion is most effective immediately following a workout.
While protein plays a critical role in muscle repair, it also contributes to an increase in glycogen synthesis when ingested with carbohydrates. These two macromolecules together increase the rate of glycogen storage by about 38 percent.1 This evidence suggests that protein shakes containing both protein and carbohydrates are an effective way to refuel the body following a workout.
The takeaway: The right protein at the right time speeds up recovery
If you want to maximize your workout and improve body composition, supplying your body with essential nutrients to promote muscle recovery is everything.4 Quicker repair of muscle tissues via protein supplementation can help reduce delayed onset soreness (DOMS) and prepare you for your next workout.2 But carbs are necessary too.
Like replacing a battery in a flashlight, carbohydrates in protein shakes promote glycogen synthesis that refuels muscles with the energy they need to perform.
When time is of the essence, protein shakes provide an efficient means of replenishing your body after exercise. They’re convenient, they’re cost-effective, and they don’t have to be boring. In fact, the Body Ecology Probiotic Protein Shake gets 5-stars again and again because it’s so delicious!
Unlike the chalky protein powders of yesterday:
- Today’s protein powders are health-intuitive and come in countless mixtures to fit your taste.
- Blend with water and crushed ice for a cold, refreshing smoothie, or add unsweetened Ripple Pea Milk for a satisfying thirst quencher.
- Look for a non-GMO, dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, and vegan-friendly protein shake if you’re following the Body Ecology Diet.
- Fermented pea and rice protein — form a complete amino acid profile — and is a unique, high-quality choice: At 15 grams of bioavailable plant protein per serving, pea protein works just as well as whey protein to boost muscle strength, performance, and body composition within just eight weeks, according to newer studies.5
- Ideally, high-quality pea protein should be predigested, and when combined with the finest source of rice protein, you have the complete amino acid profile your body needs. Two years of flavor development went into making our shake absolutely delicious. Other protein shakes miss the mark by containing oxalates, lectins, and sugar. But recent research shows that, historically, humans have the genetics to digest fermented foods. Paleolithic hunter-gatherers benefited from consuming deliberately fermented (and pre-digested) foods, used for preservation and protection against pathogens; this evolution of our stomach acidity creates a natural “filter” for pathogenic microorganisms.6,7
Since it’s already broken down, fermented pea/rice protein is easier to assimilate and less likely to cause digestive discomfort – i.e., that “heavy” feeling in the stomach, a common complaint from those using commercial protein powders.
The possibilities are endless. So is the impact that protein and the added support of pre- and probiotics can have on your recovery.
Pea protein, becoming more popular among exercisers because of its rich amino acid profile, may decrease muscle damage, while hardy strains of Bacillus bacteria, especially Bacillus coagulans, can actually increase protein uptake as well.8 This means even greater potential for recovery with less soreness.
- Ivy JL. Regulation of muscle glycogen repletion, muscle protein synthesis and repair following exercise. J Sports Sci Med. 2004;3(3), 131-138. https://www.jssm.org/hf.php?id=jssm-03-131.xml#.
- Ivy JL, Katz AL, Cutler CL, Sherman WM, Coyle EF. Muscle glycogen synthesis after exercise: effect of time of carbohydrate ingestion. J Appl Physiol. 1988 Apr 1;64(4), 1480-1485. doi: 10.1152/jappl.19220.127.116.110.
- Pearson AM. Muscle growth and exercise. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1990;29(3), 167-196. doi: 10.1080/10408399009527522.
- Kerksick CM, Arent S, Schoenfeld BJ, et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: nutrient timing. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017 Aug 29;14(1). doi: 10.1186/s12970-017-0189-4.
- Banaszek A, Townsend JR, Bender D, Vantrease WC, Marshall AC, Johnson KD. The Effects of Whey vs. Pea Protein on Physical Adaptations Following 8-Weeks of High-Intensity Functional Training (HIFT): A Pilot Study. Sports (Basel). 2019;7(1):12. Published 2019 Jan 4. doi:10.3390/sports7010012.
- Speth, John D. Putrid Meat and Fish in the Eurasian Middle and Upper Paleolithic: Are We Missing a Key Part of Neanderthal and Modern Human Diet? University of Michigan, accepted 4 April 2017.
- Beasley DE, Koltz AM, Lambert JE, Fierer N, Dunn RR. The Evolution of Stomach Acidity and Its Relevance to the Human Microbiome. PLoS One. 2015;10(7):e0134116. Published 2015 Jul 29. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0134116.
- Jäger R, Purpura M, Farmer S, Cash HA, Keller D. Probiotic Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 Improves Protein Absorption and Utilization. Probiotics Antimicrob Proteins. 2018;10(4):611-615. doi:10.1007/s12602-017-9354-y.