If you put in the time and effort to workout, you want to get the most from the work you're putting in. Which is why so many of us mix up a protein shake after lifting weights. But it turns out, there's a better way. New research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming protein along with other nutrients in whole food sources is more effective than just simply downing the protein alone (i.e. the kind found in powders, pre-mixed shakes and bars).
In the study, researchers put 10 healthy men who regularly lift weights through two separate trials. In the first, the guys ate three whole eggs (totaling 18 grams of protein and 17 grams of fat) within five minutes after a leg workout. In the second, they consumed the equivalent amount of protein from egg whites, which provided only protein, no fat nor any other vital nutrients.
They found that eating the whole eggs (with their vitamin- and mineral-rich yolks that also contain good fats and omega-3 fatty acids) sparked significantly greater protein fiber repair and recovery than eating only the whites. That's the key here, since that process is essential to building bigger and stronger muscles, explains study author Nicholas A. Burd, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "All of these non-protein food components may be helping dietary amino acids to support the post-workout muscle building response," he says.
So what's this mean? You already know you should put some protein in your body after a workout. But these findings make a strong case for getting your protein from natural, whole food sources (like three eggs) instead of an isolated protein source (chugging a shake). And the bonus is that a carton of eggs is a hell of a lot cheaper and easier to get than that huge tub of protein powder.