What is the Protein and Exercise Connection?

You have probably heard that when you exercise you need more protein than when you sit down at a desk all day or otherwise lead a sedentary lifestyle. Everyone needs protein in their diet but it is true that protein requirements vary depending on a number of different factors. For example, when you regularly work out at the gym or you train for a sport you need more protein in your diet than when you are not physically active. Other factors also influence how much protein you need on a day-to-day basis. Your body doesn’t store protein so you need to continually replenish it in order to meet demand. When you undertake physical activity the amount of protein you need to replenish rises. Here’s why protein intake matters when you are an athlete or you spend a lot of time in the gym.

drinking protein shake
Protein makes up around 15% of your body weight and after water is the largest single component in your body. It is important to get protein in your diet even if the most amount of exercise you do is walk to the bus. However, when you run, play sports, or go to classes at the gym you need more protein. You also need more protein when you are on a low calorie diet, when you lift weights, or when your diet doesn’t naturally give you complex proteins for example when you are a vegetarian. This is partly because when you exercise you alter the process by which amino acids are metabolized by your body. Also, you use a certain amount of protein to fuel your exercise activities. In addition, you need protein after exercise in order to repair tears and injuries in the muscle fibres that naturally come about following exercise stress. You also need more protein when you run or work out because protein synthesis in the body is reduced as you exercise. When you reduce the production of protein temporarily the body makes an effort to catch up when it is at rest. Athletes and sportspeople often eat too little protein. This can happen when you over-emphasise the importance of carbohydrates for energy and don’t pay attention to how much protein your body needs. A lack of protein can result in athletes being unable to keep their muscle tissue functioning well and also repair the muscle damage that comes about through exercise. This is why it is important to replenish protein stores following exercise.

A good way to instantly replenish your protein stores and keep them high is to have a high-protein snack alongside carbohydrates immediately after your gym session or workout. It is particularly important to do this after you lift weights. Choosing a ready-made snack or shake is the simple way to get a boost of protein but you can also make a simple turkey sandwich or have a steak dinner. If you are finding it difficult to get enough protein in your diet, or you are not sure which foods to eat or beverages to drink, on high-protein diets and how to make sure your body is fuelled with enough protein for exercise and growth