Gaining muscle and consuming protein go hand in hand. The general consensus is that for every pound of body weight, you should consume 1 gram of protein per day. And because daily meals are most likely not going to supply such a large amount of protein, bodybuilders and many athletes need to take in the nutrient in the form of supplements. The question becomes, when and how should you consume protein supplements to ensure maximum results?
Your first daily intake of protein needs to occur when you awake in the morning. Following a night’s sleep, your body is operating on an empty stomach which causes catabolism as the body breaks down muscle tissue in order to produce energy. Taking between 30 and 60 grams of a protein that is quickly absorbed, such as whey, will deliver some much needed fuel and effectively halt muscle decrease.
Proteins need to also be taken between meals. This ensures your muscles receive a steady stream of the nutrient throughout the day. Take a casein protein shake 2 to 3 hours following your previous repast. Casein will not fill you up and will allow you to comfortably have your next meal. Also, casein is slowly digested which will help your muscles acquire a continuous dose of the supplement.
It’s important to remember that protein consumption needs to take place no longer than 3 hours following a meal; otherwise, your muscles will experience nitrogen depletion, and as a result cease to be in an anabolic state.
The next protein intake should take place prior to your workout session. This ensures that your muscles are fed during training. A quickly digested protein such as whey is ideal. So take 30 to 60 grams of whey approximately 1 hour prior to engaging in the session to allow for enough digestion time.
You then need to take protein blends with carbohydrates following the session. Protein blends are quickly digested, contain high levels of amino acids, and lend themselves to continuous absorption. You need to consume the supplement immediately after training as blood supply to the muscles usually stabilizes shortly after. The dose should be 50 to 100 grams.
Lastly, your daily protein intake needs to occur just before turning in for the evening. Muscles are built when you sleep, so it is imperative to ensure that your muscles are fed for as long a period as possible. Casein is the best protein for your pre-bed intake as it is slowly digested and will provide a continuous supply, lasting up to 7 hours, of the nutrient when your muscles need it the most. Take 50 to 100 grams of the supplement.
While the protein supplements versus real food debate has raged on for decades, most fitness coaches will tell you that real food is the way to go. Whole food contains essential nutrients that are not present, or at least not in sufficient quantities, in supplements. Protein supplements should only come in to play as a means by which to increase protein intake along with a lower dose of carbohydrates and fats.