If you’ve been living the modern gentleman’s lifestyle and taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and psychologically, then you have been adhering to a healthy fitness routine, among other healthy habits. Now that you’re putting the hours in the gym (or on the track depending on your preferred training method), it’s time to optimize your nutrition to give your body the fuel it needs to recover, get stronger, more muscular, and even leaner. After all, fitness is half working out and half adhering to the right diet plan. 

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Specifically, your focus should be to meet your daily protein requirements, because we all know that protein is one of the key drivers or muscle growth, as well as total-body recovery, especially in the hours that follow a rigorous workout. Not to mention that eating a protein-rich diet is just a healthy habit overall, so let’s help you take charge of your health while optimizing post-workout recovery to take your fitness game to the next level.

How much protein do you need

First and foremost, let’s talk about an ever-popular topic surrounding protein – how much of the stuff should you eat daily. This information will be invaluable for your fitness journey in the long term because the sooner you figure out how much protein you need daily, the sooner you can start optimizing your nutrition and supplementation to reach your goals. Remember, as a natural athlete; you have to make every step of your fitness journey count, so don’t waste it on making bad decisions. Start by calculating your unique protein requirements. Your goal should be to consume no less than one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight in order to maximize your muscle-building potential. That said, you can go even higher if you’re in a caloric deficit because you’re trying to lose fat, but don’t want to lose your hard-earned muscle mass. So, that means that you would ideally hit a daily target of 200g of protein if you’re a 200-pound gentleman, to make things simple. Keep in mind that going higher than 2.5g of protein might not yield any significant benefits, other than the added calories that come with it. That said, protein is perfectly healthy for you, so you shouldn’t worry about any adverse side effects if you eat more protein daily. 

Supporting the muscle-building process

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As you might have learned by now on your fitness journey, your body is most susceptible to muscle breakdown after strenuous resistance training. After working out is when your body can soak up all of the nutrients you throw at it to replenish its resources and kick-start the recovery process. Even though consuming carbohydrates after a workout is also essential, it’s much more necessary to consume a protein-rich meal, snack, or shake to take advantage of the body’s heightened sensitivity to protein absorption.

That said, always remember that post-workout nutrition (which we’ll talk about in a moment), while important is not the only contributor to muscle growth and total-body repair. You must space out your protein consumption throughout the day over multiple meals to ensure a steady intake and support muscle building, muscle preservation, and general health. 

What’s more, eating protein is the best way to feel satisfied for longer because it takes more time for your body to digest protein than other macronutrients. That means that if you calculate your calories and your protein requirements, you can easily adhere to your diet plan without overeating because the protein will keep you satisfied throughout the day.

The importance of post-workout nutrition

Okay, on to the most crucial part – post-workout protein consumption. Keep in mind that even though science has long debunked the myth of the anabolic window, that doesn’t mean that some window of heightened protein absorption and muscle-building potential doesn’t exist. As you might have guessed, this is right about the time when you finish your workout, but it doesn’t last half an hour. Instead, it lasts several hours. Meaning that you have a window of opportunity to maximize the recovery potential.

For those of you who train fast or train hard in general, it’s important to eat protein-rich snacks such as ATP Science protein bars to stave off hunger, prevent catabolism, and fuel your body with a rapid surge of protein before you get to your main post-workout meal of the day. Ideally, you would want to supplement with a protein snack or shake immediately after your workout, let it digest for an hour and a half, and then proceed to eat a hefty meal consisting of complete protein sources.

Recovering from endurance-based training

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Many people like to think that eating a protein-rich diet or supplementing with protein is only essential for those athletes who partake in resistance training such as bodybuilding or powerlifting, but that’s not the case. Aside from the fact that all age groups and genders (except people with unique medical conditions) would benefit from a higher protein intake, it’s important to note that endurance athletes should consume ample amounts of protein as well.

Now, if you’re an endurance athlete, meaning that you do aerobic-style training such as running or cycling, you need to prioritize your macronutrients a bit differently. Runers tend to shred fat faster, but still need to pay attention to there protein intake. Endurance athletes should aim to get up to two grams of protein per pound of bodyweight daily to prevent muscle loss. Always remember that, even though carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for endurance athletes, you will lose your precious muscle mass if you don’t eat enough protein as well.

Should you take protein during your workout?

There’s another critical question that we need to answer, and that is the question of inter-workout protein consumption. Old-school bodybuilders and professional athletes love to preach the idea of protein intake during training. It’s important to note that as a natural athlete, you shouldn’t worry too much about intra-workout nutrition.

By and large, it’s far more critical to keep your energy levels topped-off during your workout by sipping on a sports drink that’s rich with fast-digesting carbohydrates to keep your blood glucose level in check for optimal energy output. That said, if you’re training in a fasted state, meaning that you’re exercising on an empty stomach, you should consider snacking on a protein bar or sipping on a protein shake while working out. Because your body doesn’t have the protein stores it can use to prevent muscle breakdown; you might need to supplement during your workout if you’re exercising rigorously, or if the workout lasts longer than an hour.

Wrapping up

Pprotein is the most critical macronutrient if you’re a gentleman who sticks to a strict workout routine – which you should. That said, it’s not just about consuming protein after a workout, but also about knowing how much protein you need, when you need to take it throughout the day, and how to combine nutrition with supplementation to make sure you’re reaching your goal daily. Use these tips to develop a smarter diet plan and allow your body to use proteins to become stronger, leaner, and more muscular.