You just finished working out and heading to the dining hall to refuel. However, before you eat that post workout meal, shake or supplement, there a few things you should know. Take a glance below as we uncover the truth behind the post-exercise protein propaganda.
A common misconception concerning post workout meals is that one must eat as much protein as possible in order to increase muscle strength and size. While muscle is made up of protein, replenishing the body with large amounts of protein is not the best way to increase muscle mass.
The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for protein in individuals 18 years and older is 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. The average American diet allows people to get their recommended protein amount and, in most cases, exceed it. Even athletes with greater requirements (0.6 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day) are rarely deficient in protein. Excess protein consumed by the body winds up being excreted through the urine. Consistent over consumption of protein can also put unnecessary strain on your kidneys.
Carbohydrates are key when it comes to your post workout meal. Muscle glycogen, the storage form of fuel that is used during vigorous exercise, is severely depleted after a workout and needs to be replenished. Ingesting a drink or meal high in carbohydrates with a small portion of protein is a great way to replenish your body’s muscle glycogen stores and repair muscle fibers. If muscle glycogen stores are not replenished, your body will begin to break down muscle tissue for energy.
For optimal muscle recovery and growth, keep fat content low, consume carbohydrates and protein and try to refuel within 15-30 minutes post workout.
Here are some great post-exercise food choices available in the dining hall:
A glass of Low-Fat Chocolate Milk
Toasted Whole Wheat Bread with peanut or almond butter
A serving of Greek yogurt