PROTEIN FOR RECOVERY - COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS
We have looked at recovery from endurance and strength training in previous blogs and hopefully now have an understanding that the recovery aspect of our fitness regimes is just as important as the training side. In this article, we thought it would be a good idea to address some common misconceptions people have when it comes to protein for recovery.
You’ve probably heard the following statements thrown around the gym changing room from time to time, but now let’s take a look at what the science says…
You should consume protein immediately after finishing a resistance workout.
Whilst there is no questioning the importance of protein in recovery from resistance training, what does the science say about when to consume protein?
There are a number of studies which have investigated whether protein timing surrounding resistance training has any effect on the adaptations seen over the course of a training program. Hoffman et al (2009) investigated the effect of protein timing in college athletes, with one group consuming protein immediately before and after workouts and the other group consuming protein in the morning and evening. No differences in changes in strength, power or body composition were found between these two groups. 
Furthermore, Schoenfield et al (2016) conducted a study which compared changes in muscle mass and strength over a 10-week training program among two groups of trained men, with groups consuming 25g of protein either before or after workouts. Again, no difference was found between these two groups. 
Finally, Candow and colleagues (2006), assigned older males (59-76 years old) to one of two groups – pre or post-workout consumption of a relative (0.3g/kg) dose of protein – and monitored the adaptations to a 12-week resistance training program. Once again, these adaptations were unaffected by protein timing. 
You only need protein on days where you’re working out.
Protein is necessary to rebuild muscles after they are damaged (remember, this damage is a good thing) through exercise. We could therefore be forgiven for thinking that protein consumption is less of a priority on non-training days where our muscles are being stressed. However, protein intake on recovery days is just as important as on training day. Research suggests that Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS), which is stimulated by exercise can last for up to 4 hours after a workout if in a fasted state. However, if there are sufficient amino acids (from the breakdown of dietary protein) then MPS can remain elevated for 24 hours  , that’s a whole day of extra muscle-building potential, so long as we provide our bodies with the necessary fuel.
The body can only digest 20-30g of protein at a time.
It’s often rumoured that protein-rich meals are a waste of time because the body can only digest 20-30g at a time but nutrition expert Mike Grice says this claim is based on a study that isn’t entirely reliable.
“Actually, the human body determines the absorption rate of its nutrients depending on many factors,” he explains. “If someone was to have a large meal with 50g protein, then the body would know to slow down digestion in order to absorb all the nutrients.”
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Hopefully this post has provided some clarity on protein for recovery, having addressed a few of the misconceptions surrounding the super-nutrient. There are plenty more out there – if you’ve got any that you’d like us to address then get in contact via our socials - @bodyhero or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Hoffman, J.R., et al., Effect of protein-supplement timing on strength, power, and body-composition changes in resistance-trained men. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 2009. 19(2): p. 172-85.
- Schoenfeld, B.J., et al., Pre- versus post-exercise protein intake has similar effects on muscular adaptations. PeerJ, 2017. 5: p. e2825.
- Candow, D.G., et al., Protein supplementation before and after resistance training in older men. Eur J Appl Physiol, 2006. 97(5): p. 548-56.
- Areta, J.L., et al., Timing and distribution of protein ingestion during prolonged recovery from resistance exercise alters myofibrillar protein synthesis. J Physiol, 2013. 591(9): p. 2319-31.