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Protein for Sore Muscles

author image Rachel Nall
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.
Protein for Sore Muscles
Chicken eggs, which is a source of protein. Photo Credit MartinFredy/iStock/Getty Images

If you are a fitness enthusiast or athlete, exercising on an almost-daily basis is a customary habit. Muscle soreness is commonplace. Delayed-onset muscle soreness can make it difficult to continue your exercise routine on a regular basis. You can take steps to reduce muscle soreness, including using protein supplementation.

Muscle Soreness Causes

While the precise cause of muscle soreness has not been pinpointed, the prevailing theory is that muscle soreness is the result of tiny tears in your muscle fibers during exercise. When your body repairs these tears, this can cause you to experience muscle soreness. Other theories include that muscle spasms and excess stretching can lead to muscle soreness.

Protein for Muscle Recovery

One of the ways you can help prevent sore muscles is to consume some protein within the hour after you finish your exercise routine. Go Ask Alice!, a health resource from Columbia University, recommends eating protein-containing foods like peanut butter on toast, sliced turkey on a bagel or a protein shake after exercising to reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness. Incorporating a carbohydrate source is important when eating protein after your workout source. This is because carbohydrates cause your body to release insulin, which helps protein to enter your body’s cells.

Body Use

Eating protein almost immediately after exercising can help your body to recover from activity. Your body uses the protein to rebuild torn muscle fibers in your body, which helps to minimize muscle soreness. Timing is important when consuming protein after your workout -- the faster you can eat protein, the sooner your body can begin repairing muscle fibers. Because your body can only absorb so much protein at a time, eating between 15 and 25 grams of protein should be sufficient for repair. Your body uses certain protein sources more efficiently than others. High-quality protein sources include casein and whey proteins.

After the Hour

While your body requires protein to constantly maintain muscle mass, eating protein after the hour after your workout may not be as valuable in preventing muscle soreness. This is because muscle breakdown begins when you finish exercising. It takes your body time to use protein, even protein ingested quickly after your exercise session, to repair your muscle fibers. Therefore, using protein in the hours after exercising may not help as effectively in combating muscle soreness.

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