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Does Eating Protein Before a Workout Help?

By Brian Willett

Although exercising can be beneficial in and of itself, the nutritional choices you make to support your workouts can help enhance the effects of the activity. Although all foods impact your workouts in some way, consuming protein powder before workouts may provide more significant effects than other types of food. Consult a doctor before starting a workout routine or using any supplements.

Increased Muscle Protein Synthesis

In order for your body to gain muscle mass, you need to be in a positive net protein balance. Resistance training breaks down muscle protein, but consuming certain foods can help reverse this effect. According to research from the January 2007 issue of the "American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism," consuming protein powder prior to exercise can increase muscle protein synthesis compared to consuming protein powder after exercise. This encourages a positive net protein balance and increased muscle growth.

Increased Calorie Burn

Exercise alone burns calories, but you can accelerate your weight and fat loss efforts by spurring increased calorie burning after your workouts as well. According to research published in the May 2010 issue of the journal "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise," consuming a protein shake prior to your exercise session can increase the amount of calories your body burns in the 24 hours after your exercise session.

Improved Satiety

If you don't feel full before your workouts, you may lose focus and find it difficult to perform at your highest level. Certain foods, such as simple sugars, may cause large fluctuations in your blood sugar that can increase your hunger. According to a study from the October 2010 issue of the "British Journal of Nutrition," consuming a protein shake can provide more satiety than consuming protein-rich foods such as eggs and fish.

Improved Strength Recovery

If you train often or in conjunction with athletic activity, decreased strength can be a serious concern. If your body does not fully recover from a training session prior to your next session or game, you may experience decreased strength. A September 2010 study from the "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition" found that consuming protein shakes before workouts enhanced recovery and prevented strength declines in following workouts.

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