BEFORE POWER UP WITH PROTEIN
Research published in the Journal of the International Society
of Sports Nutrition shows that eating protein as part of your pre-lift nosh can help reduce muscle protein breakdown and encourage better gains afterward. But don’t pound a burger before hitting the squat rack (hello, gut bomb). Instead, have a light preworkout snack with some easy-to-digest protein and carbs about 30 minutes before training.
Eat This: Power Balls
Soak 1½ cups of dried Mission figs (stems trimmed) in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain, pat dry and process in a food processor with 1⁄3 cup of plain protein powder, ¼ cup of cocoa powder, ¼ cup of almond butter, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, zest of one orange, juice of ½ an orange and pinch of salt. Form mixture into 1-inch balls and keep chilled. Eat two balls before a workout.
AFTER GET CRACKING
In a head-to-head comparison, researchers from the University of Illinois found that providing people with 18 grams of protein from whole eggs after lifting weights was about 40 percent more effective at stimulating myofibrillar protein synthetic response (aka muscle building) than egg whites alone. The protein in egg whites is complete, meaning it contains the right mix of essential amino acids, but it’s likely that the fat and other nutrients found in the egg yolk work synergistically with the protein in the egg whites to help battle-worn muscles recover.
Eat This: High-Pro Egg on Toast
Mash two hard-boiled eggs with 2 teaspoons of pesto and ¼ cup of plain Greek yogurt. Spread on a piece of toasted whole-grain bread.
GOTTA HAVE RICOTTA
Ricotta is a standout source of leucine, the most musclefriendly amino you can eat after pumping iron. According to research, leucine behaves like a hormone in your body, sparking muscle protein synthesis in response to weight training. Eat a leucine source such as ricotta with an equal ratio of carbs to raise insulin levels and encourage more efficient protein assimilation. Eat This: Bodybuilder Bowl Stir together ½ cup of part-skim ricotta cheese and 1 scoop of whey protein powder in a bowl. Top with 1⁄3 cup of muesli and ½ cup of chopped pineapple