How to Use Protein Powder for Repair & Recovery: An eBook

In our E-Book, TheDefinitive Guide to Protein Powders we explain that protein provides the building blocks of life, amino acids. Protein is a crucial component of every cell in your body, it aids in bone mass, plays a role in hair, skin, and nail health, and is essential in the production of enzymes and hormones. It works to regulate your metabolism and can be a source of energy. 

For the purpose of this article we’ll discuss how protein is also essential in the recovery process and to build and repair muscle tissue. We’ll explain what occurs during exercise, proteins role in repair and recovery, how much protein is required, what are the best sources of protein, and when is the optimal time to consume protein for repair and recovery.

DOMS – Delayed Onset MuscleSoreness
You do not build muscle in the gym or on the road or track.Your objective in exercising, funny as it may seem is to tear down the muscle, resulting in what is called DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. During a workout, intense exercise causes microscopic tears to the fibers and connective tissues of muscles. Muscles adapt and grow as a result of proper rest and nutrition. Following an exercise session, the protein you take in helps in the repair of exercise-induced damage to muscle fibers. One of the predominant functions of your dietary protein is to repair and rebuild the tissues of your body, including damaged muscle fibers.

How Does Protein Help
During your workout, the body directs energy and amino acids to support muscle contractions rather than protein synthesis. Post workout, when the muscles are in recovery phase, amino acids are used for protein synthesis, to repair muscle micro-tears. Consuming a post-workout protein supplement fuels the body with these amino acids.

Just a bit of science about protein. Of the 20 amino acids necessary for life, your body only produces 11 of them. The other nine amino acids are known as “essential amino acids” and must come from your diet in the form of dietary protein. You can meet your protein requirement by consuming real foods, such as meat, dairy, poultry, milk, and eggs; and to a lesser extent with legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains. However, post-workout your body and muscles are primed for nutrient uptake. This is the ideal time for a fast digesting liquid protein, for ease, convenience, and speed of digestion. A whey isolate, whey blend, or hydrolysate would be ideal as they are all complete proteins with all the essential amino acids.

You may want to consider adding rapidly digesting, high glycemic index carbohydrates, to your post-workout shake to shuttle nutrients to the muscles, and glutamine, an amino acid known for its recovery capabilities.

How Much Protein, and What Protein is Optimal for Athletes
The RDA (recommended dietary allowance) of protein to maintain health is 0.8 gram/kilogram of body weight. The RDA is the amount of a nutrient you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements. To determine your RDA, you can multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36 grams.

Athletes have long contended that high-protein diets improve their athletic performance and increase muscle mass. Scientific data seems to support that endurance athletes need at least 0.54 - 0.64 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight, while strength athletes need at least 0.77 - 0.82 grams per pound. In bodybuilding circles, it is not uncommon for an athlete to target 1 – 2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight based on personal goals and energy expenditure.

To answer the “how much is optimal” question, specifically as it relates to the post-workout drink, we recommend a 20- 30 gram serving of a whey isolate, concentrate, or hydrolysate. In terms of recovery, whey is considered optimal for the immediate repair of muscle. This is due to whey having a similar amino acid profile to that of skeletal muscle, is easily digestible, and rapidly absorbs into the muscle.

Sleep, a Pivotal Component in Muscle Growth
As previously mentioned, muscles adapt and grow as a result of proper rest and nutrition. Sleep plays a pivotal role in this equation. When sleeping, your body enters an anabolic state, meaning your body uses sleep to repair and rejuvenate the muscle tissue. Also, during sleep, your body creates more substantial amounts of human growth hormone and testosterone, both of which play a role in the reproduction and regeneration of cells.

We highly recommend you supplement protein before going to bed. You will be fasting the next seven to eight hours and you want to preclude the body from using all its stored energy during the night. This is an idea time for a slower digesting protein, one that releases its nutrients over several hours. So, before bed, we suggest a milk protein, preferably one that includes casein, or a blend of whey isolate and concentrates with casein. In a pinch, a cup of cottage cheese, preferably low-fat, is a viable option for your late-night protein snack.

We hope this article has helped you to understand the muscle building process and the critical role nutrition plays. The three major components for muscle repair and recovery: training, nutrition, and proper rest. For more information on protein powders visit our site and request your free copy of our eBook, The Definitive Guide of Protein Powders.