When is the best time to take protein?

Protein supplements are some of the most popular supplements on the planet.

People use them for a variety of reasons, including to build muscle, lose weight or simply improve their health and general well-being.

However, many people wonder when is the best time to take them.

This article explains when is the best time to take protein, according to your health goals.

Woman at the gym taking a protein shake

When it comes to essential nutrients, the protein is at the top of the list.

It is a cat of all trades with many roles in the body. Protein is a source of energy, can help repair damaged tissue, is essential for growth and plays a role in the prevention of infections and diseases (1, 2).

Protein is naturally abundant in foods such as meats, fish, eggs, dairy products, grains, seeds and legumes. It is also available as a dietary supplement, commonly known as protein powder.

These are some of the best known protein powders you can buy.

  • Whey protein: A protein based on dairy. It contains all the essential amino acids and is rapidly absorbed (3).

  • Casein protein: A protein based on dairy. It contains all the essential amino acids and is absorbed slowly, so people often take it before bedtime (4).

  • Soy protein: A protein of vegetable origin that contains all the essential amino acids. It has also been linked to some impressive health benefits (5).

  • Pea protein: A protein of vegetable origin. It has low levels of the non-essential amino acids cysteine ​​and methionine (6).

  • Rice protein: A protein of vegetable origin with low levels of the essential amino acid lysine (7).

  • Hemp protein: A protein of vegetable origin made from hemp seeds that has high levels of fiber and omega-3 and omega-6 essential fats. Hemp protein is low in the amino acid lysine (8).

Protein powders are a useful way to increase your protein intake if you are always on the move. They are convenient, portable and come in a variety of flavors.

To take protein powder, simply mix the powder with water or another liquid of your choice. Many popular supplement brands also sell ready-to-drink protein shakes.

Summary Protein is an important nutrient that has many functions in the body. It is found naturally in food and is also available as a dietary supplement called protein powder.

When is the best time to take protein?

People often wonder when is the best time to take their protein powder.

This depends on your health and fitness goals. You may want to consume it at a certain time of day, depending on whether you want to lose weight, build muscle or preserve muscle.

These are the best times to take proteins based on your specific goals.

Lose weight

Protein is one of the most important nutrients for fat loss.

Eating a high protein diet can help increase your metabolism and reduce your appetite (9).

The protein helps reduce appetite by reducing levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, while increasing levels of hormones that reduce appetite, such as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), peptide YY (PYY) and cholecystokinin (CCK) (10, 11).

This means that eating a protein-rich snack between meals can lead to eating fewer calories later in the day (12, 13).

One study found that people who ate a high-protein yogurt sandwich during the afternoon ate 100 fewer calories at dinner, compared to those who ate saltines or chocolate as an afternoon snack. Yogurt, cookies and chocolate provided the same amount of calories (13).

Try to eat a lot of protein-rich foods throughout the day to get the most benefits for losing weight.

Summary The consumption of protein-rich snacks between meals is ideal for fat loss. It can help curb hunger, which could lead to eating fewer calories at the end of the day.

Building Muscle

Protein is important for muscle building.

To build muscle and strength, you need to consume more protein than your body naturally breaks down during resistance training or weightlifting (14, 15).

The best time to consume protein for optimal muscle growth is a controversial issue.

Exercise enthusiasts often recommend taking a protein supplement 15 to 60 minutes after exercise. This time frame is known as the "anabolic window" and is said to be the perfect time to make the most of nutrients such as protein (16).

However, recent research has shown that this window is much larger than previously thought.

According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, consuming protein at any time up to two hours after your workout is ideal for developing muscle mass (17).

For the average person, the exercise of resistance and the consumption of sufficient proteins are more important than the intake of proteins at the opportune moment (18).

That said, people who train on an empty stomach, such as before breakfast, may benefit from taking protein shortly after a workout, since they have not consumed protein for a while (19).

Summary To develop muscle, aim to consume protein within two hours after exercise. People who train in a fasting state, such as before breakfast, should take protein immediately after exercising.

Prevention of muscle loss

Maintaining muscle mass is especially important as you get older.

Research shows that people lose approximately 3% of their muscle mass every year after age 30. Unfortunately, muscle loss is related to an increased risk of fractures and a shorter life (20, 21).

Scientists recommend distributing protein intake evenly throughout the day to help prevent muscle loss with age. This means eating approximately 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal (22).

Most Americans eat about three times more protein at dinner than breakfast. This makes consuming more protein at breakfast an ideal way to evenly distribute protein intake (23).

Summary To help prevent muscle loss, try to consume between 25 and 30 grams of protein per meal. Taking a protein supplement in meals during which you consume less protein, such as breakfast, can help distribute your intake during the day.

Performance and recovery exercise

Athletes often wonder when they should take protein for performance and recovery.

For resistance training, combining protein with a carbohydrate source during and after exercise can improve performance and recovery and reduce pain (24).

For example, a study of 11 cyclists found that drinking a protein and carbohydrate drink during training improved recovery and reduced muscle pain, compared with a placebo (25).

For resistance training, protein can help improve performance and recovery, whether or not it is consumed with carbohydrates (24, 26).

For most people, eating enough protein is more important than controlling protein intake. However, athletes participating in resistance training may benefit from protein intake immediately before or after a workout (24).

Summary Endurance athletes can see better performance and recovery by taking proteins with a carbohydrate source during and after exercise. Endurance training athletes can benefit from protein intake immediately before or after a workout.

Should you take protein before bedtime?

The elderly, as well as people looking to build muscle, increase strength and improve performance and recovery from exercise, may benefit from taking proteins before bedtime (24).

In a review of studies, the scientists concluded that taking proteins before bed is an effective strategy to promote muscle building and help them adapt to exercise (27).

This is because the protein consumed before bed is effectively digested and absorbed, which increases the availability of proteins in the muscles for recovery throughout the night.

The scientists in that study recommended consuming 40 grams of protein before bedtime to maximize muscle growth and adaptation during the night (27).

In another study in 16 healthy elderly men, half of the participants consumed casein protein before bedtime, while the other half consumed a placebo. The study showed that consumption of casein protein before bedtime promoted muscle growth, even in less active older people (28).

If you want to take protein before bed, you may consider taking a form of casein protein. Casein is digested slowly, which means that it can provide the body with a constant supply of protein during the night (29).

You can also get the benefits of the casein protein from real foods instead of supplements. Dairy products such as cottage cheese and Greek yogurt are rich in casein.

Summary Taking protein before bedtime can be an effective strategy to help build muscle, increase strength and improve performance and recovery from exercise. Older people looking to preserve muscle mass may also benefit from taking proteins before bedtime.

Is too much protein bad for you?

There is a common myth that excessive protein consumption is harmful to health.

Some believe that consuming too much protein can damage the kidneys and liver and cause osteoporosis, a condition in which people develop hollow, porous bones (24).

However, these concerns are exaggerated and are not supported by evidence.

In fact, many more studies show that you can safely eat a large amount of protein without the risk of harmful side effects (2, 24, 30).

For example, a detailed review of more than 74 studies concluded that healthy adults should not worry about the amount of protein they ingest (31).

Most adults can benefit from the consumption of 0.6 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound (1.4 to 2.0 grams per kg) of body weight (24).

People who want to avoid muscle loss can stay at the lower end of that scale, while those who want to lose weight or build muscle can eat at the higher end.

Summary The myth that protein is bad for you is greatly exaggerated. There is much evidence to suggest that healthy adults can eat large amounts of protein without experiencing harmful side effects.

The bottom line

Protein is an incredibly versatile nutrient.

A sufficient intake of protein can help fat loss, build and preserve muscles and improve performance and recovery from exercise.

Also, taking it at the right time can help you achieve your goals.

For example, consuming protein between meals can help control hunger and reduce caloric intake later in the day.

Following some of the above strategies may allow you to better use the proteins in your daily routine, helping you to achieve and maintain your health and wellness goals.

Reference: https: //www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-time-to-take-protein


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