Do you have a favourite go-to post-workout protein supplement? Do you make sure it’s full of beneficial ingredients and not filled with chemicals? Do you rely on it for a substantial nutrition boost?
Do you know how to properly absorb that protein?
The conversation around whether additional protein is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is debated throughout the wellness industry, but putting that to one side, it’s worth knowing how to absorb your chosen protein source, especially if you’re supplementing with it to build muscle and stay healthy.
A post-workout shake often contains about 15-20g of protein, and the type and quality of this will vary greatly depending upon the type of protein it is (whey, hemp, pea etc) and the company you buy it from. (my favourite is from UK-based Love Life Supplements, or for a plant based option, I love this brand). There are a whole heap of articles out there about how much protein each person needs depending upon body weight, activity levels and fitness goals. If you’re interested in learning about that first, click HERE for a great source of info.
Absorbing the nutrients we eat is essential, yet it’s not something we often give much thought to. Whilst the food you put in your mouth might be incredibly healthy, if it’s not being absorbed by your body, you’re simply spending a lot of your grocery money making expensive poo…..
The typical things most people think about absorbing are vitamins D and C, magnesium, iron and calcium. Arguably, these are probably more important than protein absorption, but if you know you’re getting these nutrients, here are the 5 keys to making sure you’re absorbing the protein you want:
Space It Out
Protein synthesis (a fancy way of saying ‘building and repairing muscle’) is optimised by including 20-30 grams of protein at each meal. Exercise creates microtears in muscles, and the harder you work, the more tears you’ll create. Protein helps repair these trears, ultimately helping repair, build and strengthen muscles. Eating protein after working out provides these tears with enough nutrients to repair and strengthen, and ‘enough’ is thought to be roughly 20-30g protein if you’re working hard. More than this however can’t all be absorbed by the body at once, and is either stored as energy or fat, or sent through the body and down the toilet. To enhance your chance of absorbing all the protein you consume, space out your protein intake, rather than trying to cram it in at one meal.
Spice It Up
Consider adding spices like ginger, black pepper, cumin or ajowan to your protein shakes or protein-heavy meals. Not only do these spices help immensely with digestion, they help foods digest quicker, as well as increasing the amount of protein absorbed by the body. This study shows that even with these great results, there were no compromises or side effects when using these natural spices.
Intestinal health is crucial when it comes to absorbing nutrients. If the intestine walls are covered in a build up of processed foods and undigested particles, it’s difficult for the body to get the vitamins it needs, as digested food is absorbed into the body through the intestinal walls. Keep your colon healthy by fasting or intermittent fasting periodically, drinking plenty of water, taking natural digestive herbs like Triphala, consuming pre and probiotics, and exercising regularly.
We might usually think of ‘acidic’ foods as being harmful for the body, but stomach acid is vital for breaking down and digesting nutrients. Low stomach acid results in weak digestion and an inability to fight off germs, but a healthy balanced amount of stomach acid can do wonders for breaking down those protein molecules. Consider consuming acidic foods like natural orange juice, vinegar, and most types of fruit.
Good sources of protein supplements will include an abundance of amino acids (the ‘building blocks’ of protein). Leucine is thought to be bar far the most important of the 20 amino acids for rebuilding and enhancing muscle tissue, and the best sources of this tend to be meat or poultry, followed by dairy and fish. Plant foods containing the most leucine are soy, with beans and lentils following behind. A plant based diet can be just as effective for muscle building as a general mixed plant, dairy and meat inclusive diet, it just requires more awareness of the foods you’re consuming and the levels of nutrition within them. The best plant-based sources of protein tend to be amaranth and quinoa, chia, hemp, peas, edamme and nut butters, and these can all be a welcome alternative to dairy based supplements when you feel like changing things up.
Bonus: For 10% off Love Life Supplements Primal One Protein Powder, use the code EMMAN-LLS10 at checkout!