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This Is What Your Body Is Really Craving Post-Workout

We’ve all done one of those full-out, powerful workouts that leave us decidedly hungry (maybe hangry if you didn’t have the right pre-workout nutrition going for you). But what exactly does your body need and want after you’ve worked it hard and good in your HIIT or LISS or whatever-in-between workout of choice?

For our Tone It Up Nutrition Plan, Karena and I are always creating fun, new protein-packed smoothies, muffins, pancakes and meals so that our community can reach all their fitness goals. But we constantly get asked, “What’s the deal with protein?” A common misconception is that it will cause women to “bulk up.” This couldn’t be further from the truth as protein is necessary for everyday life and has a TON of roles in the body.

What does protein even do?

The functional units of protein are amino acids. Think of them as bricks to protein building. Your body can make the majority of amino acids itself, but there are 9 that you need to eat in order to use. These are the “essential amino acids.” Together, amino acids create hormones, aid in muscle repair, help with proper functioning of antibodies, make up enzymes and regulate fluids in your body. If you’re low on the pro, you could be looking at symptoms ranging from hair loss to edema.

Doesn’t it make you bulk up?

The reason your muscles get bigger is from putting extreme stresses in the form of weight lifting on them. Eating more protein won’t make your muscles suddenly get huge. The amount of protein you need mostly depends on your weight. The way you figure out how many grams you need per day is by multiplying your weight in kilograms by .8. So yeah, a 200-pound male weight lifter is going to need more protein than a 130-pound woman.

Where should we be getting protein from?

The important thing here is to remember that there are 9 amino acids that your body can’t make, so taking these in each day is crucial. You can get complete proteins from all meat, including fish, beef, chicken and pork. Not a huge fan of animal products? No problem! You can get complete proteins throughout the day by eating a variety of foods! Seeds, nuts, grains and legumes are all great sources of incomplete proteins that, when combined, can give you everything you need. Plus, things like quinoa and goji berries are all-natural, plant-based sources of complete protein!

What’s the deal with protein powder?

Protein powder is an efficient way to get the complete protein your body requires. It’s especially great to have after exercising. During a workout, your muscles create micro tears as a result from strength training or cardio. These tears are what your body rebuilds in order to make your muscles stronger. For all this to happen, you need protein… and you need it kind of fast. Just around 30 minutes after your workout has ended is prime protein time. Our organic, non-GMO Perfect Fit Protein is an incredible way to get the protein you need. It’s made with pumpkin seed and pea protein to give you all your essential amino acids in one scoop! We mix one scoop with 8 ounces of coconut water for an immediate protein boost. If you want to make your protein more of a meal, try a smoothie! We are always experimenting with new flavors and fun combos on our Perfect Fit Instagram.

Now that you’ve got the scoop on protein, make sure to feed your body the good stuff! Craving even more info about the pro-pro? Check out our Tone It Up Nutrition Plan! It’s packed with all the information you need to know about protein, carbs, fat, vitamins and minerals! Plus, it comes with over 2,000 recipes to implement all your new knowledge!

A version of this story was published August 2016.

Before you go, check out our workout recovery essentials:

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