You probably won’t be surprised to hear that you must provide your body with appropriate nutrients to make the most of your potential training gains. However, the timing of your nutrient intake is just as important as the quantity. Immediately after resistance exercise, protein synthesis increases, therefore your protein needs before a strength training session will be different than afterward.
How much you eat and what you eat before exercising will have an impact on how effective your training session is, just like the influence effort and motivation has on your potential training gains. Before exercising, you should provide your body with enough energy in the form of carbohydrates to get you through the session. Eat your main meal 3-4 hours before exercising. Snacks can be eaten within an hour of your session. Meals and snacks before an aerobic session will tend to focus around carbohydrates however, this should be the same focus before a weights session. While consuming some protein before exercising will help with muscle maintenance throughout the session, your protein needs are more critical after your session.
Protein plays a major role in muscle repair after exercise. Proteins in your muscles are broken down during exercise, and the body compensates for this by increasing the rate of protein synthesis. This increased production requires extra amino acids, the building blocks for proteins. You need to consume adequate protein after exercising to meet your increased need.
Choosing Your Protein
Not all proteins are digested and broken down at the same rate, so to provide your body with the quickest available source of protein, you need to choose proteins that are easily digested directly after your session. Research has shown that whey protein is more easily absorbed than soy, but both whey and soy are better choices than casein for fast digestion. Casein is a slow-release protein, and since protein synthesis continues for up to 24 hours post-session, it can be used in the evening before going to bed for extended muscle repair.