Types of protein, timing, quantity … How to optimize recovery after a weight training session


The effectiveness of a bodybuilding program requires, among other things, a suitable diet. How to optimize its muscle recovery phase? Marina Fabre, specialized in sports nutrition at INSEP, gives you some tips.

The pillars of a good workout *

Before, during, after the bodybuilding session, or sport: an effective sports practice is a whole. And food plays an important role. Marina Fabre, a Ph.D. student in physiology, specializing in sports nutrition within the research laboratory of INSEP, talks about four essential points so that the physical activity is not counterproductive: the hydration, the digestion, the energy before the effort and the recovery after the effort, on which we will return more extensively. 

Regarding hydration, she suggests “to drink water soon after waking in small quantities and regularly throughout the day, without waiting to be thirsty”.Whatever the training schedule, you have to start it well hydrated. And to verify that this is the case, ” there is a simple way: the color of the urine. 

It must be clear throughout the day. “ On the digestion and energy before exercise, it advocates a period of 2 hours between the end of the meal and the beginning of the session. ” And if the last meal was taken more than 3 hours before the beginning of the effort, take a snack at 1 am of the training: a fruit or a compote plus a yogurt, for example”.
* In music like elsewhere

A snack every 3 hours

After the session, during which hydration has been essential, a place to recovery. This is done in three areas: 
– Restoration of energy reserves (stocks of glycogen to be reconstituted) 
– Restoration of the water balance (rehydration) 
– Restoration of the protein balance, favoring a positive state after the effort, in order to improve muscle recovery. Marina Fabre states that ” this positive protein balance is to be favored regularly during the day, in case of the goal of muscle mass gain “. 

During physical exercise, catabolism takes precedence over anabolism: syntheses of muscle proteins are inhibited, while degradations increase. But at the end of the session, the body enters a phase of protein synthesis called metabolic window, which must be stimulated by a protein intake to improve muscle recovery in the minutes and hours after exercise. The consumption of carbohydrates to restore energy reserves is also recommended, except dry period, and hydration should not be hidden. This article focused on muscle recovery is non-exhaustive. 

This first intake of protein should be accompanied by regular intake at 3-hour intervals throughout the rest of the recovery period, estimated at 12 hours on average. Even during the whole day as part of a muscle mass gain. It is, therefore, necessary to drink/eat protein foods. Certainly … But which ones and in what quantity?

Slow proteins / fast proteins

During the metabolic window, it is advisable to ingest proteins that are rich in essential amino acids and in particular in leucine – animal proteins contain more than vegetable proteins – in liquid form preferably, and fast assimilation (whey, soy ). For example cow’s milk, soy protein, drinking yogurt.

During the following catches, slower assimilated proteins are also effective or even preferred in the form of snacks or meals: cottage cheese, meat, fish, eggs, etc. “As part of a search for muscle mass gain, if the bodybuilding session is in the afternoon or evening, it may be advisable to take a snack rich in protein slow assimilation (casein) just before sleeping, like cottage cheese, for example, “adds Marina Fabre.

0.24g / kg of body weight each time

Regarding the dosage, 20-25g of protein per meal/snack is on average recommended (less, it decreases the effectiveness, beyond 25, the increase has no more positive effect). A number that can be refined, taking into account body mass, as specified by the doctoral student of INSEP: ” 0.24g of protein per kilogram of body weight would represent the ideal amount, per serving, to activate optimally protein syntheses. “

Related to the whole day, for people practicing sports 4 to 5 times a week: it is advisable to eat between 1.3 and 1.5g of protein per kilogram of body weight to maintain muscle mass. In order to increase it, it is the interval 1.8-2g / kg which is suggested, while a consumption going beyond 2.5g / kg is considered excessive. The diet must remain balanced.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here