When you train with weights, you’re chasing one of these goals: muscle mass, strength, or sports performance. Knowing the best protein to fuel your strength workout before, during and after your can make a big difference.
HOW PROTEIN IMPACTS STRENGTH GAINS
You might think your body needs energy, not protein, to fuel a strength workout. But the research tells a different story.
When you strength train, your brain sends out signals (including growth hormones) which trigger your body to build muscle. That’s where protein comes in, helping your body build and retain muscle after you’ve trained hard.
Science also tells us that your protein intake can impact your body’s ability to gain muscle mass and strength, and this gets more pronounced as your training duration and frequency increases.(1)
WHAT THE BODY NEEDS TO STRENGTH TRAIN
To get an effective weight training session under your belt, you need to fuel your body with enough calories and a good balance of macronutrients. Protein is important at any time of the day (before and after training), but carbohydrates will help fuel your strength workout so you have the energy to push hard and create the necessary training stimulus.
For this reason, many strength athletes like to consume a pre-training meal which consists of a fast-absorbing protein source (like PhD Whey Isolate) and a simple carbohydrate or a shake that combines both (like PhD Synergy ISO-7).
STRUCTURING MEALS AROUND TRAINING
Your approach to meal timing and macronutrient content will always depend on your goals. If you are dieting to get lean, you may need to restrict carbohydrates to the peri-workout window. But let’s assume you are neither cutting nor bulking and can enjoy a balance of macros throughout the day. Your approach to supporting strength workouts might look like this:
Breakfast: protein, carbohydrates, a little fat
Lunch: balanced meal of protein, carbs, fats
Pre-workout: simple carbs and protein
Intra-workout: BCAA or intra-workout drink
Post-workout: fast-absorbing protein and some carbohydrates
Evening meal: balanced meal of protein, carbs, fats
Pre-bed: slower release protein, or whey protein with a healthy fat source
TAKING PROTEIN DURING TRAINING SESSIONS
If your strength training session is particularly long or intense, you should use an intraworkout formula like PhD’s Intra BCAA+, which combines instantized BCAAs, CocoMineral™ coconut water extract (for electrolyte intake), hydrolysed whey isolate, and micronutrients to support training. This kind of advanced intra workout formula will give your body the protein, amino acids, and hydration it needs to push harder and stimulate muscle growth.
THE BEST PROTEIN SOURCES FOR STRENGTH WORKOUTS
• Pre-training meal – make sure the meal you have 2-4 hours before training includes a decent amount of lean protein (25g-30g), ideally from a wholefood source: lean meat, seafood, eggs, low-fat dairy, or a vegan high protein food choice.
• Whey protein isolate – PhD Whey Isolate has been highly filtered to remove almost all of the fats and carbohydrates, creating a very high-protein choice of protein powder.
• Whey protein concentrate – PhD Pharma Whey is less filtered than isolate, but still has exceptional macros, with minimal carbohydrates or fats. It absorbs slightly more slowly than whey isolate.
• Plant-based protein blends – if you choose to use a plant-based protein powder, opt for a blend so you benefit from a wide spectrum of amino acids. PhD Smart Protein Plant delivers 20g protein and around 100 calories per serving.
• BCAAs – the three branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) are known to be the most important amino acids for muscle building and retention. Sip on a BCAA drink like Intra BCAA+ or use BCAA capsules fefore or during strength workouts.
• Amino acids – all protein sources are made of amino acids, and you can always opt to take amino acids as a supplement. PhD Amino Support contains 8 essential amino acids including the all-important BCAA’s, l-leucine, l-isoleucine, l-valine, as well as added vitamin B6 to help reduce fatigue and support protein and glycogen metabolism.