Protein is an important part of a healthy diet, and you should be getting plenty of it. Protein helps build and repair muscle tissue, so it’s crucial to your health and fitness goals. And there are so many delicious foods that are packed with protein—you honestly don’t have to sacrifice taste in order to eat right.
But when should you eat your protein? When do you get the most benefit from it? Let’s get into it.
Protein is one of the three macronutrients—the others being carbohydrates and fat. It’s made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of every cell in your body. Protein helps your body function at its best. It’s necessary for building muscle tissue, repairing damaged tissue, and making hormones. It also helps you feel satiated and full after eating!
The average adult needs roughly 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (0.36 grams of protein per pound). So if you weigh 150 pounds (68 kilograms), you’d need about 47 grams of protein each day. If you’re trying to build muscle, the math is a bit different. You’ll need about 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, or 0.5 to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight. To keep with the same example, if you’re 150lbs/68kg, you’ll need to eat 82-115 grams of protein per day.
Protein is a macronutrient that’s found in foods like meat, fish, eggs and dairy. It’s a key part of your diet because it provides your body with the energy and nutrients it needs to function properly.
But not all protein is created equal. On an equivalent ounce-to-ounce level, plant-based proteins don’t have the same effect on the body as animal-based proteins do. That’s because our bodies digest animal-based proteins differently than they do plant-based ones.
Generally speaking, though, complete proteins from real food are the best sources of protein in your diet. You can also get protein from supplements like protein powder—but remember that these products don’t provide all the vitamins and minerals that come with eating whole foods!
Have you ever wondered when the best time to take your protein powder is?
Well, depending on your health and fitness goals, it could be at any time.
Protein suppresses appetite by decreasing levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and increasing levels of appetite-suppressing hormones such as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), peptide YY (PYY), and cholecystokinin (CCK). This means consuming a protein-rich snack between meals may lead you to eat fewer calories later in the day. This means that eating high-protein snacks between meals can help keep you in a calorie deficit, or at least regulate your hunger.
However, the best time to consume protein for optimal muscle growth is a contentious issue. Most fitness enthusiasts recommend eating within a time period known as the “anabolic window,” or 15-60 minutes after exercise, but this strict window isn’t necessarily the most effective protein consumption window. In fact, it may be based on some rather outdated science!
Consuming protein any time up to two hours after your workout is ideal for muscle mass building, according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition. People who train in a fasted state, such as before breakfast, may benefit from taking protein immediately after a workout, but for most people, simply eating enough is sufficient.
There you have it. The best time to eat protein is whenever you can get it in. Quantity and quality are more important than timing—so make sure you’re eating the right amount, and then go ahead and enjoy your post-workout protein with a delicious shake from Buzzfit!