Precision timing of protein intake can boost your athletics performance

Planning your protein consumption with precision could pay dividends, according to several new findings revealed at American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) conference.

Firstly, researchers suggested that the “anabolic window of opportunity” (optimal time to eat protein after a workout to build muscle) is longer than initially thought with muscles remaining in prime building-mode for up to two days after a weight-lifting session.

When it comes to refueling depleted muscle glycogen, however, the advice is still to aim for within an hour or two of exercise.

Spreading out your protein intake can also enhance performance. One study showed that consuming 20g of protein four times a day produced better muscle protein synthesis than 10g taken eight times a day, or 40g taken twice a day. Ideally, athletes should aim for about 20g of protein every three to four hours at breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner.

Meanwhile, older athletes who want to stem sarcopenia (muscle loss associated with ageing) can benefit from another 40 grams of protein before going to bed, possibly in the form of chocolate milk.

Extra bedtime protein reduces overnight muscle breakdown and enhances overnight muscle growth, scientists suggested.

Frontload your calories for leanness, study says

Consuming most of your calories in the earlier part of the day helps to maintain leanness, according to a new study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) annual conference in Boston.

In a 20-week trial involving 420 people, those who ate a late lunch lost less weight than those who ate an earlier lunch.

Why does meal timing make a difference if you consume the same amount of calories overall each day? It comes down to the mechanics of diet-induced thermogenesis (the amount of energy needed to digest and assimilate a meal, generally 7-10% of calories consumed) which is lower at night.

In addition, the circadian rhythms that drive hunger are also stronger at night compared to morning.

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