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Fit Fridays with Tracy: The benefit of protein post workout


Most people make the mistake of assuming that their workout is over once they leave the gym.

Nutrition becomes an integral part of your routine when you work out regularly. Not only does it fuel your increased physical activity, it also provides the raw materials for building and repairing your muscle fibers. Muscle protein breaks down during exercise and undergoes repair during post-workout recovery. In addition, synthesizing new muscle fibers occurs between workout sessions.

When you work out on a regular and consistent basis, you’ll need more protein in your daily diet. How much daily protein a person needs depends on their training program. A weightlifter or body builder or an athlete that is still growing may need as much as 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. A runner, bicyclist, swimmer or soccer player would do well with 0.75 grams per pound. If the athlete is overweight, calculate protein needs based on goal body weight. Most of the protein should be supplied by high-quality, whole food sources such as meat, fish, poultry and milk products. Whole foods also supply essential nutrients necessary for basic health, sports performance and optimal utilization of protein.

In addition to consuming protein at regular mealtimes, eating a small amount of protein (5 to 10 grams) just before and a moderate amount (15 to 20 grams) just after you work out supplies you with the muscle building nutrients you need to maximize your gains. Food-based protein sources are preferable to supplements. When you leave the gym or playing field, get off your bike, out of the pool or off your feet, you’re not done. The nutrition that happens between training sessions will determine how well you do.

Tracy Springs is a fitness instructor at LA Fitness. Feel free to contact her at [email protected] with any questions or to set up a fitness appointment at the LA Fitness Waukegan facility.