The Do’s And Don’t Of Workout Nutrition: Section 2, Recovery
By Justin Sorbo
Hand up, my last installment was a little too academic. Sigh - old habits die hard! I’m going to keep it simple and direct here.
Eating For Recovery: Protein
Food might be the most convoluted subject on the planet - it doesn’t have to be complicated.
If you exercise hard and want to see results, you’ll want either an increase in or a preservation of lean muscle mass. Muscles are made of protein, so you need to eat protein to repair the muscle tissue that’s damaged during exercise. Sleep, hydration, and carb intake are important too, but let’s talk about that later.
How much protein, what kind, and when?
According to the ACSM and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the optimal amount of protein for the preservation of or increase in muscle mass is between 1.2-2.0g/kg of bodyweight. (.65 - .9g/lb). For a 175lb person, that means eating 114-158g/day of protein.
Good news: when adjusted for total protein intake, the timing of your meals is nearly irrelevant when it comes to results! I still LOVE my post workout meal (I’m hungry after), and it makes me feel great. But don’t sweat it if you can’t fit it in.
The source of protein isn’t important, either. It can be veggie powder, fish, meat, eggs, whatever. Eat what you like!.
In the practical sense, it can be difficult to eat enough food to cover your needs. I recommend most folks start with the lower end of the spectrum - lean sources of protein work well since they’re low in calories (can eat more fun stuff later) and very satiating.
To hit that 114 target, here’s what a day of eating might look like (this is me, BTW):
Breakfast: Egg, 4 egg whites, 2 slices bread, apple: ~35g protein
Lunch: 5oz chicken breast, rice, and vegetables: ~40g protein
Snack: Greek Yogurt mixed with fruit and honey: ~25g protein
Dinner: 6oz Pork Loin with rice, vegetables: ~45g protein
Total: ~145g protein
If you don’t like meat as much as I do, not to worry! There’s fish, protein powder (any kind), yogurt, kefir, eggs, and tofu.
How To Eat More Protein:
Start by adding one extra serving per day into your routine. Once you have that down, dial it up a bit more.
Track your protein for a week. You don’t have to do this permanently (I don’t), but it will give you a ball-park estimate of how much you’re actually eating.
Consider supplementing with a shake. They’re easy to drink, fast, and require no cooking.
Eat what you like. If you’re forcing down food that you hate, you’re not going to stick with the habit.
Got questions? Send me an email.