High-Protein Snacks Boost Metabolic Rate

Medically reviewed in January 2022

Before you spend 20 minutes pumping iron at the gym or hauling your body up that park hill, high-protein snacks are recommended.

Research suggests that a protein fix before a workout could boost your metabolic rate -- and thus your calorie burn -- for a full 24 hours after you strength train.

Muscle Factory
Whether you use elastic bands, gym weights, or your own body as resistance, strength training revs up your body's calorie burning from hours to days after a single session. And there are two reasons why: First, your body is simply working overtime to replenish the fuel -- oxygen and blood sugar -- you used up in your workout. But second, your body is also trying to rebuild the muscle broken down in the workout. And, as it turns out, a little extra protein from high-protein snacks may encourage your body to work even harder on that second part. (Find out why pairing protein with pumping iron is good for your blood sugar, too.)

The Power of Protein
In a study done on exercisers, a protein-rich drink consumed 20 minutes before strength-training resulted in an 8% increase in metabolic rate -- and the increase lasted for a full day. But a carb-rich pre-workout beverage? It produced only a modest boost in metabolic rate afterward -- just a 3 or 4% bump. All of which suggest that the extra protein in the first drink helped fuel a more powerful -- or extended -- muscle-rebuilding effort after the workout. So for extra calorie crunching, consider pre-workout, high-protein snacks, such as a slice of low-fat cheese, a hard-boiled egg, or a few ounces of Greek yogurt. (Did you know? Protein from dairy may offer a special advantage when it comes to building muscle.)

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