Why is Protein So Important?
Well, let's first talk about what happens when you're swimming and training to understand why protein is an important nutritional building block. When you engage in moderate to intense exercise, your muscles go into overdrive and begin converting nutrients into the energy required by working muscles. But your muscles only have a fixed amount of energy stored in the form of glycogen (a substance deposited in bodily tissues as a store of carbohydrates. It is a polysaccharide that forms glucose on hydrolysis.) As your muscle glycogen is depleted, you begin to feel fatigued and there's a simultaneous increase in the level of stress hormones (cortisol) circulating throughout your body. One of the primary actions of cortisol is to break down other nutrients, such as protein,for the energy the body needs for muscle contraction. In other words, you are breaking down lean body mass to use as energy.
The aim of taking a protein shake immediately after heavy exercise is to deliver amino acids back to the muscles to maximize or maintain muscle mass. Keeping your metabolism high, boosting your immune system, and maximizing your recovery. The faster you can recover from a training session, the more effective and productive your next training will be. When you consume insufficient protein, your recovery time gets longer, your muscle weakness can occur, and you can become susceptible to illness and injury.
Protein deficiency can be dangerous over the long term since inadequate protein intake can lead to exhaustion or sports anaemia, which is common among females.
How much is enough?
Since we now know that failure to get enough protein in your bodies can hinder your performance during swimming events or training sessions. Getting enough protein is critical. The protein guidelines for an active swimmer are outlined here. Each meal should contain .25-.30 grams of protein/kg of body weight/meal. The larger pre-sleep meal should contain .60 grams of protein/kg of body weight. For example:
A 68 kg athlete would use the following guide:
.25 grams of protein/kg x 68 kg = 17 grams of protein per meal
.30 grams of protein/kg x 68 kg = 20.4 grams of protein per meal
.60 grams of protein/kg x 68 kg = 40.8 grams of protein pre-sleep
So are you getting enough protein at each meal?
This is where protein shakes come in - they act as a supplement to your main meals and help provide the nutrients, minerals and vitamins that your body needs that it might not be getting from food.
Is a protein shake enough or do you need more to maximize recovery? Many studies show that it is also vital you eat the right carbohydrates along with the protein shake because protein taken on its own will not synthesize into the muscles as quickly. Research from Mastricht University, the Netherlands, comparing carbohydrate supplements and a carbo-protein supplement after resistance training that lasted two hours shows.
- The rate of muscle protein breakdown was 8.4 percent lower, on average.
- The rate of protein oxidation was 77 greater
- The rate of muscle protein synthesis was 33 percent greater than in the carbohydrate trial.
By adding a carbohydrate source such as half a banana, you will help provide the energy required for the optimum absorption process to take place. The energy from the carbohydrates speeds up the absorption rate of the protein into your muscles, boosting your immune system function, and speeding up muscle recovery and growth.
As a result, your body’s metabolic rate increases and burns more body fat. Drinking a protein shake, like our Performance shake, provides the right ratio of carbs and protein, while also giving you nutrients and minerals that the body needs to function properly, helping you reach your power to weight ratio, without bulking up.
Time it right
So when is the best time to drink a protein shake? Since recovery time is important to an athletes success, you'll want to have a shake within 30-45 minutes of your workout. This is the ideal window to help with muscle repair and total body recovery. This ensures that you benefit the most from the enhanced muscle protein combination.
You can also lose protein while you sleep because you will be fasting for seven hours or more and your body breaks down muscle to use as fuel when you sleep. A pre-bedtime meal helps lessen the impact of protein breakdown that occurs during sleep, as you won't be eating. During this period your metabolism slows, you lose muscle and your immune system is sometimes weaker. It is during this time that it is critical to have the right fuel in your body. Drinking a shake right before bedtime can make all the difference in the world, it helps overcome muscle loss and helps you feel refreshed the next day.
Now that you know the importance of protein and how a protein shake can help you perform better, choose one that's right for you. Check out our Performance shake and learn how it can help you reach your performance goals!