The timing of eating can be as important as what you actually eat if you are training hard. So if you want to maximise muscle growth, should you be eating protein before or after your workout? We look at the evidence and come to a surprising conclusion.
Bodybuilders have known for a long time that you need to consume some protein as soon as possible after a workout if you want your muscles to grow, and other athletes have gradually been wising up to this.
But new evidence suggests that it may actually be more beneficial to take your protein supplement before your workout.
Here's why - when your muscles are tired after a hard workout you need to replenish your protein supply as quickly as possible for growth and strength increases to occur.
Unlike carbs, however, there's no 'protein store' in the body, other than muscle tissue itself - so if the body is short of protein, it will start eating its own muscles, the last thing you want!
The key is therefore to get protein, and in particular essential amino acids, into the muscles as soon as possible.
But consider this - high protein drinks or meals can take several hours to produce maximum amino acid concentrations around muscle cells - and it is the presence and availability of high levels of amino acids that is essential for growth to occur, especially after exercise.