How much protein should I eat on off-days?
I'm aware that eating protein is important on the day of your weight lifting session. The most important time to eat protein is right after the session. But I've never heard advice on when to eat and how much protein to eat on off-days. How quickly does your muscle's need for protein diminish over time? My guess is that the 1-2 hours right after the weight lifting are crucial. Then the night of sleep uses moderate amounts. Then on the next day (the off day), you need minimal amounts of protein. Is this correct?
interesting... I wanna know the truth too... :( some people say the best time to eat more protein is on off-days 'cause it's when your muscles grow.
Actually, the idea that the most important time to eat protein is right after a training session has not real scientific validity. It's a great marketing claim used by shake manufacturers to impress upon you the need to buy their convenience powders. Your body does not suddenly start building muscle immediately after a workout. Protein metabolism is a very well studied process and it happens over a period of days after your training. In fact, your body goes through a diurnal cycle that involves period of net anabolic and catabolic activity.
Therefore, the importance of protein is not the timing of after a workout or even on "off days" but rather on average over a period of time. I wouldn't complicate your nutrition trying to time it specially on on or off days because you don't really know when the "on day" is for your recovery. So you need a steady stream of quality protein every day, and there is no need to spike it at certain periods. Excess protein in a short period of time simply gets converted to sugars and burned as fats, albeit through a highly inefficient metabolic pathway that has the net effect of slightly raising your metabolism.
Most of the "requirements" for protein are overblown as well. This is a two-part whammy, one from the supplement industry again trying to sell protein and two from the bodybuilding industry where anabolic steroids do in fact increase the body's capacity to process protein ... unfortunately, it just doesn't work the same way for natural athletes. While it may come as a shocker because all of the "advice" forums tell you that you need 1 - 2 grams your body weight in protein per day, the truth is that Dr. Peter Lemon conducted intensive research on the protein requirements of both sedentary and athletic individuals and found that there is no benefit of added protein above 1.5 - 2.0 grams per KILOGRAM of body weight, or about 0.8 grams per pound. The World Health Organization has also researched this ad nauseum in the effort to find the most inexpensive form of usable protein to fight starvation. Most of the "high protein" and "protein after workout" advice comes from paid endorsements and studies funded by the companies promoting the product.
The advice of eating protein after a workout is not only from protein shake manufacturers. I read it in Arnold's *Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding*, which was written before high tech protein shakes became mainstream. He even talks about the recipes for his homemade natural protein shakes because he couldn't find anything from health stores. Arnold says that when the muscles are in a broken state, their need for protein increases. Not only does he recommend eating protein after the workout, but also to eat carbs so that your body does not fallback to protein as an energy source.
I do remember reading in a few places that you do need to replenish your glycogen immediately after a workout so your muscles don't cannibalize themselves.
His bodybuilding advice came from an era when bodybuilding steroids were rampant (and for a brief period, legal), there is absolutely no comparison to a natural athlete's response. And there is truth to the need for carbs post workout, due to glycogen, that is well supported in scientific literature. Carbs = more important than protein after the workout.
Protein right after a workout has some scientific backing. Like all exercise science, it's inexact, but: "A
Might also be good to link to your answer here: http://fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/595/at-what-point-during-my-weekly-routine-should-i-be-consuming-extra-protein
@JoJo Arnold also heavily talks about 'muscle confusion'? Do you believe that too?