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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.


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.


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

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