This article was published on April 6th, 2013
Whether you’re training to run a marathon, lifting weights at the gym, attending a yoga class, hiking up the Grouse Grind, or kayaking in Deep Cove, you’re body is working hard, burning calories and pushing your muscles to keep you going. Understanding how to refuel your body and repair your muscles after a workout is key for success.
During every workout, cells, tissues and bones throughout the body are pushed and pulled. At the end of the exercise, the body instantly goes in to recovery mode. The body needs to be refueled to begin the repair cycle. The two key nutritional requirements the body needs are protein and carbohydrates.
Protein keeps the body healthy and maintained. Both the enzymes and hormones in protein are needed for growth, healing, digestion, fitness, and immunity. Protein is also beneficial for weight management and is associated with alertness and attitude.
Daily fitness levels determine the amount of protein required each day. Very active people require 0.75g of protein per pound of body weight per day, 0.6g for moderately active people, and 0.5g for mildly active people. For example, a moderately active male weighing 170lbs would require about 102 grams of protein per day.
Sources of Protein:
- 3.5 oz Chicken: 15 grams
- 8 oz low-fat yogurt: 12 grams
- ½ cup black beans: 8 grams
- 1 scrambled egg: 6 grams
- 1 cup of broccoli: 5 grams
Post work-out the body requires 20-25g of protein within 25 minutes of completing exercise. Most people who work out miss this incredible window of opportunity. Within this time period is the biggest benefit to rebuild muscles, delivering greater strength and maximizing the workout. After 25 minutes without consuming protein and carbohydrates, the workout is essentially complete without long-lasting benefits, other than the calories burned during the workout period. Anything in excess of 25g of protein per serving is wasted because the body can only process that amount at one time; the rest is removed from the body as waste.
While you’re probably not going to have four scrambled eggs ready and waiting for you immediately after showering at the gym, or able to consume five cups of broccoli after running 29km, or having 1.5 cups of black beans, there are other options available to quickly get protein in your body as you travel from your exercise program to your work, home, or next activity.
Protein bars are an option post-workout, however, the fastest method for the body to absorb protein is in liquid format. Protein bars are better used throughout the day as a longer sustaining energy source.
A second option is to get a to-go shake. To-go shakes are high in sugar or calories, especially if they are from coffee shops or fast-food restaurants, and do not contain a significant amount of valuable protein. Juice bars are expensive and not always conveniently located near a gym or where you have completed your fitness.
The third option is to mix protein powder with milk or water. There are a number of really great protein powder options, however, protein powder can be clumpy if it is not made using an expensive shaker bottle, and potentially make a big mess in your gym bag if it spills.
A fourth and convenient option is to bring a pre-packaged protein shake. Muscle MLK* is a good option because it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Each bottle has 20-25g of protein, 9-11g of carbohydrates and is lactose and gluten free. Muscle MLK does not contain milk; however it does have dairy based proteins (calcium & sodium caseinate, milk protein isolate, and whey) that are derived from cow’s milk. Muscle MLK is available in 12-pack cases or can be purchased individually at 7-Eleven stores.
What’s most important is that you refuel your body immediately after working out.
*In Canada, Muscle MLK is a different formula than Muscle Milk in the United States, because of different requirements by Health Canada.