What do I need to eat, when I have been physically active?
I am often asked what you need to eat when you do a certain sport or work out in a certain way. A lot of people, especially young people, are very eager on getting sufficient protein. They drink protein shakes, eat eggs every day and eat large portions of meat. But do you really need that much protein to build muscle mass?
According to science you need to have 0,8 g of protein per kilo bodyweight per day to maintain your muscle mass. If your weight is 80 kg you need 80 x 0,8 g = 64 g protein spread out through the day to maintain your muscle mass. Most people get a lot more protein than they need and they don’t need to think about if they get enough.
When you do weight lifting and you want to increase your muscle mass, your protein need is a little bit bigger. You need approximately 1,5 g of protein per kilo bodyweight. If your weight is 80 kg you need to intake 80 x 1,5 g = 120 g protein spread out through the day. You might benefit from eating a small meal with protein just before your work out and again just after you have finished your work out. After your work out, your body needs to recover. During the recovery you can continue with meals containing the protein your body needs to build muscle mass. The body can only turn over 20-25 g of protein per hour. Therefore, you need to divide your protein need into several smaller meals. Nupo produces a protein bar called Protein Bite. It weights 40 g and it comes with three different flavors. It contains 12 g of protein. It is suitable to have in your bag and it can be eaten both before and after your work out.
When you exercise or work out you use energy. The energy you use comes from the glycogen stored in your muscles. The glycogen comes from the carbohydrates you eat. When the carbohydrates are digested and absorbed in your body it will be loaded as glycogen in your muscles. When you do physical activity, you use the glycogen in your muscles. Your muscles can only store a certain amount and it is beneficial to eat or drink something that contains carbohydrates before your exercise or work out to fill up the depots. After your work out, it is also a good idea to eat or drink something that contains carbohydrates to fill up the now more or less empty depots. When you do high intensity sports such as running, swimming or biking your diet and especially the carbohydrates are extremely important according to your performance. When you do a sport such as weight lifting or body building, your glycogen levels are important according to your performance. A lot of athletes are focused on especially getting enough protein, but the glycogen levels are also important when you have to do your best performance whether it is one kind of sport or another.