High-protein diets are known to increase lean body mass while improving body composition, recovery times after workouts, while keeping you feeling satisfied for longer after eating.
Consuming protein after a workout can help stabilise your blood glucose levels while keeping the cravings for sugary snacks and carbs at bay. Protein also helps you feel fuller for longer, so you’re less likely to reach for a pack of lollies or chips between meals.
In this blog, we’ll be taking you through some of the best protein snacks to have after a workout.
Who Can Benefit From Eating Protein?
Whether you’re the person who gets up for a 4km run every morning before work, a long-time member of your local yoga community, a fan of heavy lifting, or working on a specific part of your body to improve your physique or overall health, adequate protein intake can really boost the effectiveness of each workout session. Your body will thank you for choosing protein to help it repair and build muscle.
Do You Really Need Protein Right After a Workout?
Contrary to what you might have been told, it isn’t entirely necessary to consume protein immediately after a workout. Or every two hours for that matter. Nor is it necessary to binge on protein. If this comes as a surprise to you, all the more reason to do a bit of research so you aren’t rushing to gulp down a protein shake right after a HIIT session. Here are 3 “how’s” that explain the reasoning and current science behind the idea.
- How protein complements workouts: Exercise creates microscopic tears or damage to the existing muscle in your body. The protein that we feed our bodies gets broken down into amino acids that aid in the repair of these damages.
- How consuming protein repairs your body: Dietary protein sources contain the amino acid leucine, which directly activates muscle protein synthesis (i.e. it builds and repairs muscle). Each protein source has a different leucine content, and only about 1.8g of leucine is needed to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
- How much protein does your body need: When it comes to how much protein your body needs and when to take it, it’s a personal journey. Figuring out exactly how much protein to take depends on factors such as your lifestyle, your personal weight and build, your fitness goal, the type of exercise you do, your dietary preferences that dictate your protein sources, and when you last ate protein.
When Should You Eat Protein to Complement a Workout?
Having a protein-rich snack or meal around 1-3 hours before a workout will stimulate the same anabolic response in your body as having it 1-3 hours after a workout. Snacking on protein sources within 1-3 hours after a workout will help your blood sugar levels stay stable and keep any cravings at bay.
It is perfectly sufficient to consume about 30-45g of animal-based protein within 1-3 hours before exercising, which should contain 8-10g of essential amino acids. Plant-based diets can opt for foods life tofu, seeds, and beans instead. Pea protein is a great non-animal source of leucine.
Tasty Ideas for Protein-rich Snacks
The great thing about dietary protein is that it is found in abundance in nature. Whether you are a vegetarian, meat lover, pescatarian, paleo, or anything else, there are many protein sources available to suit your dietary preferences and needs. Here are some high-protein snack ideas to get you inspired for the next meal prep:
- Greek yoghurt with muesli
- Sultana, nut, and oat energy balls
- Corn, spinach, and feta muffins
- Tuna and crackers
- Teriyaki chicken skewers
- Nut butter sandwich
- Beef jerky and carrot sticks
- Peanut butter and celery sticks
- Pesto and chickpea salad
- Beef biltong and veggie sandwich
- Turkey, cranberry, and pecan wrap
Treat Your Body Well
When consumed as a part of a varied and balanced diet, protein can have great immediate and long term effects on not just your body, but also on your mental and emotional health.
Whether you’re looking to lose extra weight, improve your cardio fitness, or build muscle mass in a specific area of your body, eating right can really boost your mood and overall sense of wellbeing.
No matter which dietary preference you have, there is a great selection of protein sources on the market to complement your workouts. So opt for protein-rich food and make healthy snacking a priority this new year.