Spring fever is approaching and the warm weather inspires many of us to get fit for the summer. But getting your body in shape requires more than a fancy gym membership or cutting edge running shoes. Be sure you are fueling properly as well and eating foods that will rebuild, replenish and repair your muscles.
Did you know your body’s muscle is continually breaking down and rebuilding at a rate of 1-2 percent per day? This means that in about three months’ time, your body has completely rebuilt your muscles. Maximize your muscle rebuilding results with these nutrition tips:
- An active individual needs more protein than a sedentary individual. In order to maximize protein synthesis (growth), active individuals have higher protein requirements. They should consume 0.6-0.7 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight each day. If you weigh 150 pounds, you should be consuming 90-105g of protein daily. In your quest for protein, remember that the health benefits of dairy provide a unique combination of protein and eight other essential nutrients.
- Aim to consume 20-25g of protein equally spaced throughout the day. Spacing out your doses of protein will assure you that your body has enough for growth and repair. Some examples of foods to help you reach your recommended daily protein intake include:
|1 cup plain Greek yogurt||22g protein|
|1 cup skim milk and 2 eggs||20g protein|
|3 ounces chicken breast||22g protein|
|1 cup tofu||20g protein|
|1 1/2 cups black beans||21g protein|
|5 tablespoons peanut butter||20g protein|
- Choose a variety of protein sources to maximize benefit. Protein is found in both animal sources (e.g. milk, eggs, lean meats) and in plant sources (e.g. beans, nuts, grains). Each source of protein affects the rate of protein synthesis differently, so choose a variety of protein-containing foods during different meals and snacks to maximize your benefit. Start your day with these high-protein Breakfast Granola Bites and a carton of yogurt. Or enjoy this hearty Kale and White Bean Panzanella that includes both beans and cheese for lunch or dinner.
- Consume protein after exercise. Following strenuous exercise, the body is in recovery mode and primed and ready to receive and utilize the foods you eat. The timing of postexercise protein is important to enhance muscle growth and repair. Combining protein and carbohydrates like chocolate milk can help your body recover faster than consuming protein alone. Aim to consume protein-containing foods 30 minutes to an hour post-workout.
Incorporate these four tips to your current training schedule and you are well on your way to maximizing your results. As Jack LaLanne, the godfather of fitness said, “Exercise is king. Nutrition is queen. Put them together and you’ve got a kingdom.”
Brent Fountain, Ph.D., RD, CSSD, LD, FAND is an Associate Extension Professor and Human Nutrition and Food Safety Specialist for Mississippi State University Extension. Brent has a diploma in sports nutrition from the International Olympic Committee, is an ISAK Level 1 anthropometrist, and a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics.