How to Use Protein Powders in Your Fitness Plan

Designing the right fitness plan takes a bit of finesse. Sure you could go to the gym and just workout, but if you want to reach your goals, you need to create a plan that incorporates food, supplements, and exercise. The goals of a distance runner are far different from those of someone trying to build muscle mass. A cyclist has different needs than a bodybuilder and the training and nutrition needs to be geared toward that individual.

There are many ways for individuals to use protein powders. Powders are a quick and easy way to get in the necessary protein to build and repair muscles before and after workouts.

Types of Protein Powders

Protein powders fall into two different categories. There are animal-based powders and plant-based powders. Each has different uses and can improve recovery from workouts and so much more.

Animal-Based

Animal-based options include whey protein powder, egg-protein powder, and casein protein powder. Whey and casein powders are derived from cow’s milk. They include every essential amino acid and can be quickly absorbed and used by the body in protein synthesis. Egg-protein powders are usually made just from the egg whites. It’s dairy free for those who can’t tolerate milk products, and contains 25-30 grams of protein per serving. It also has fewer calories than eating the whole egg would have.

Plant-Based

For those who would prefer protein from plant sources, there are many great options available. Soy is one of the oldest plant proteins available. Many people are choosing different options because of the negative effects that soy has on some people. Hemp protein powders and pea protein are two of the other most readily available options. They are not complete proteins, however. Hemp and rice proteins are low in lysine and pea protein is low in cysteine and methionine. If you’re using these powders, additional supplements may be necessary.

When to Use Protein Powders

The timing of protein powders depends on your overall goals. Some people consume them an hour or two prior to a workout, others consume it in the minutes following a training session, and still others consume them daily as meal replacements to ensure they get adequate protein.

Use it Before a Workout

Some people prefer not to consume protein shakes immediately before a workout. But for those who do, there is good news, it appears to be about as effective as consuming a protein powder shake immediately after a workout. A high quality protein shake can help your muscles recover more quickly from a vigorous workout or weight lifting session than other protein sources.

Using protein before a workout also gives you much-needed calories and nutrients to sustain you. Cyclists should also get enough protein so that they can maintain their muscle mass. More muscle means more strength to go on longer rides. Cyclists typically also use fast-acting carbohydrate sources during a workout.

Use it During a Workout

Heavy lifters especially need to fuel up on protein. Some athletes like to consume a protein shake especially during grueling and long workouts. This keeps essential amino acids flowing through the bloodstream and to the muscles. Others prefer not to drink them because protein shakes leave some individuals feeling nauseated and sick. If you’re doing a shorter workout of less than an hour, it may be better to simply replenish fluids during the workout and add protein afterwards.

Use Protein Supplements After a Workout

Most athletes like to add their protein after a good workout. If you consume added protein in the 45 minutes after you’re done exercising, your body uptakes and utilizes more of the protein for repairing and rebuilding muscles. It’s one of the strategies that elite bodybuilders use to improve their strength. It’s important to take in all the essential amino acids after a good lifting session. If you use animal-based powders you are more likely to fulfill this requirement easily. If you take plant-based, you might need to add more ingredients to get all your protein needs met.

Whether you use protein powders to fuel muscle growth or long cycling trips, it’s important to make sure you get all of your protein needs met. Athletes use several different strategies. One is to incorporate easy-to-digest protein powders and shakes into their workouts and daily lives.