by Andy Dutra, Clemente Center Personal Trainer
One could write volumes about protein and its importance in achieving fitness goals. Protein is a crucial building block for the development of muscle tissue. Proper supplementation, along with appropriate training, may help to improve one’s strength-to-weight ratio, a performance-enhancing goal for athletes at any level. Improving or sustaining muscle mass can be a challenge however, particularly for endurance athletes, so learning how to supplement correctly will help.
The right timing, type, and proportion of protein intake is essential. For example, during exercise, protein should typically provide only 3-5% of total energy; carbohydrates remain the preferred and most efficient fuel, but before training and during recovery the desired ratio is much different. So what is the right mix?
How to Choose, Time, and Portion Your Protein Supplementation:
Quality of Ingredients (What to Look For):
- Choose proteins that provide a complete amino acid profile to supply your body with the necessary building blocks for tissue development & repair. Multi-source plant-based sources are a great option since they also contain digestive enzymes to help with the breakdown of protein molecules, and may increase the absorption and bioavailability of amino acids.
- Protein blends that contain additional branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s) help speed recovery by stimulating protein synthesis, reducing muscle breakdown and fatigue during intense exercise.
- Protein sources that support an alkaline pH in the blood are invaluable for preventing fatigue, speeding muscle recovery, and reducing nutritional stress. Multi-source plant-based proteins are the most alkaline forming and best choice.
- Clean nutrition blends with natural flavors that contain no artificial colors or preservatives.
- Be aware of proteins that contain more sugar or fillers than actual protein.
- Pre-workout: Protein supplementation can occur at any time of day in the lead up to a training session.
- Post-workout: Plan for a high protein meal or shake 45-90 minutes post -workout to help speed recovery time between training. An amazing post-workout recovery food is low fat chocolate milk because it contains the perfect ratio (4:1) of carbohydrates-to-protein.
Daily protein requirements will vary depending on your body weight and activity level. Here are two key guidelines:
- Approximately 1.5g of protein per kg of body weight per day is recommended for active individuals.
- Limit protein intake to a maximum of 30g of protein per serving to help optimize protein utilization, muscle maintenance and amino acid uptake.
- Note: Excess protein or protein loading can produce excess nitrogenous waste for the body to excrete and can raise the risk of dehydration. This will cause unneeded stress on the liver.