Physical Activity and Muscle Protein Breakdown
Physical activity increases muscle protein breakdown. Intense physical activity can lead to micro-damage or mini-tears in the muscle fibers, but this is a transient, normal response to vigorous exercise and training. The degree to which the breakdown occurs will depend on how rigorous the activity is as well as the level of exertion. Keep in mind that micro-tears are an important stimulus for muscle growth to occur.
Protein Helps Support Muscle Recovery and Rebuilding
After your workout, it is important to implement an appropriate routine in order to support muscle recovery. Adequate recovery time, as well as a balanced diet are key factors that can positively affect muscle recovery and rebuilding. Additionally, adding protein to your post-workout routine can help to support muscle recovery following exercise. Over time, regular resistance training combined with proper rest and nutrition can help to support muscle building.
Best Time to Use Protein
There is a common perception that athletes need to consume protein immediately post-workout because muscle protein synthesis is limited to a short 1-2 hour recovery window, commonly known as the ‘anabolic window.’ However, some evidence suggests muscle recovery may last for several days after intense exercise. Muscle protein synthesis (the process of muscle rebuilding) can remain elevated for up to 48 hours after exercise.
Nevertheless, post-workout nutrition is a great fueling opportunity as muscles are receptive to protein following exercise. But you don’t need to slam a protein shake seconds or even minutes within finishing your workout. Protein can be consumed any time following activity. Aim to refuel with protein at a time that works best for you. Remember, muscle recovery is an ongoing process that can take up to several days. At the same time, creating a consistent routine where you consume your protein as soon as is convenient for you after your training can go a long way to supporting your goals.
Choose complete high-quality proteins to help support muscle recovery. Complete proteins naturally contain all the essential amino acids and varying amounts of the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. Leucine, in particular, helps to support muscle protein synthesis. Complete proteins include animal-based products such as meat, poultry, eggs, seafood and dairy products. Soy is a high-quality, plant-based protein that is considered complete.
Whey is high-quality dairy protein commonly used to support muscle recovery. Here’s one reason why. Whey is a dairy protein that digests faster than some other dairy proteins, such as casein. Making whey a go-to protein for post-workout recovery support. Whichever proteins you prefer personally, focus on creating a post-workout protein routine that works for your goals and your schedule so you are more likely to stay consistent across your fitness journey.