Refueling After Exercise: Protein
Carbohydrates aren’t the only nutrient that can help with muscle recovery. Protein has been getting attention as another recovery star player. When protein is added to carbohydrate after exercise, it stimulates muscle rebuilding to a much greater degree than carbohydrate alone.
Protein consumption is often associated with weight lifting as a recovery tool. However, a 2009 editorial from Journal of Applied Physiology suggests protein with carbohydrate is important for recovery from endurance exercise. Often, endurance athletes train 5 — 6 days a week using the same muscles (usually their legs). Due to the nature of endurance exercise, the body may also catabolize more muscle than during resistance training. This makes it even more important for runners and cyclists to get enough protein after exercise, to replace what was lost.
The amount of protein that is needed for optimal recovery depends to an extent on age. For younger individuals, it has been shown that only 20 grams of protein is necessary to maximally stimulate muscle growth. For individuals over the age of sixty, 40 grams or more may be necessary.