When Do Athletes Need Extra Protein?
The currently accepted amount of protein required to achieve maximal stimulation of protein synthesis following higher-intense exercise is 20-25 g. Research showed that this amount helps to repair and build new muscle tissue. It also leans you out: more lean muscle mass and less overall body fat %.
How Should We Get This Protein?
Food First! Generally, eating whole foods instead of fueling with supplements is always a nutritionally better and healthier choice. Whole foods provide natural vitamins and minerals and typically contain less sugar and fat. This is a rule for athletes and the general population alike, applied to meals and snacks.
But there might be special situations, when eating beans, tofu or hempseeds is either not possible due to their availability (eg traveling) or is not as effective as fueling with liquids instead.
When Are Liquid Proteins More Effective?
During Recovery. Compared to protein from whole foods, protein in liquid form has been shown to empty faster through your digestive system. Which means they have a higher absorption rate and consequently be quicker available for your post-workout recovery.
Does The Timing Of The Intake Matter?
Yes! Most likely you have heard of the 30 min window post-exercise where you have an increased opportunity for recovery. The recovery window is open up for 24h, but the sooner you fuel after your workout, the quicker you recover. And put less overall stress on your system (avoid overtraining). This is especially crucial for athletes with multiple training sessions per day.
Often athletes have a sensitive stomach after high intense exercising, or just so not feel like eating/ chewing solids. Which would mean they would miss out an important recovery opportunity.
Which Protein Type Is Easier On My Sensitive Stomach?
1) Liquid forms! Even with a sensitive stomach, athletes mostly do not mind to hydrate, and liquids are more likely to be consumed compared to solids.
2) Plant-based protein! We saw a difference between athletes using animal vs. plant-based protein powder during and after exercising. Those with a more sensitive gut had more issues using whey-based powders. When they switched to a plant-based version, their upset stomach issues were usually resolved.
Immediate vs. Delayed Post-workout Recovery?
Once your stomach settles down, usually around 2-3h after the more intense workout or race, you are ready for solid foods.
Now you can eat more lean protein foods like chicken or fish (or tofu), and add healthy carbohydrates choices like brown rice or whole-grain spaghetti. Top it off with a variety of veggies, and you are set for your next workout!
Read our second part:
Comparing popular plant-based protein powders:
Pea vs Soy vs Brown Rice