Eating Protein Helps Athletes Recover Faster

Training for sports in done by taking a hard workout and then having sore muscles on the next day. Then you take easy workouts at a slow pace or you take off until the soreness disappears. Your muscles grow and heal while you recover. Of course, if you could recover faster from a hard workout, you could do more work and be a better athlete.

Scientists have known for years that you will recover faster by eating carbohydrates after you finish your hard workout, and the sooner you eat, the quicker you will recover. Eating extra protein on the day that you take hard workouts helps you recover even faster. Chronic muscle fatigue in athletes is associated with low blood levels of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins (1). Eating extra protein reduces muscle damage during hard exercise (2). Eating carbohydrates along with a protein building block called leucine helps you to recover even faster(3). Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans and meat or vegetarian protein foods immediately after a hard workout. The so-called branched chain amino acids can be converted to sugar and also help to form and rebuild muscle after a hard workout.

1) KJ Kingsbury, L Kay, M Hjelm. Contrasting plasma free amino acid patterns in elite athletes: association with fatigue and infection. British Journal of Sports Medicine 32: 1 (MAR 1998):25-32.

2) Nancy Rodriquez. The Journal of Nutrition July, 1999.

3) Hayward R et al. Effects of dietary protein on enzyme activity follwoiing exercise-induced muscle injury. Med Sci Sprts Exerc. March, 1999. 31(3):414-420.

Checked 8/31/08

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