Do You Have To Eat Protein After Working Out

What Kind Of Workout Was It

Do You Need a Protein Shake After a Workout?

First of all, it depends on the type of workout. If it was a harder, longer, performance-based workout, then absolutely, super important, says Susan Kitchen, MPH, a board certified specialist in sports dietetics. Think: high-intensity interval workouts, sessions lasting longer than 90 minutes and hypertrophy-focused strength routines. On the other hand, short, low-intensity sessions dont require you to rush to your next meal unless youre already hungry.

Eating Well And Staying Hydrated

Essential nutrients are required after a hard workout with carbohydrates and protein being the main focus. Drinking plenty of water and sometimes a sports recovery drink during longer sessions of exercise is also necessary for fluid replenishment.

Average sweat loss during exercise is about 0.52 liters per hour. Typically, any weight loss of greater than 2% during exercises will significantly decreased performance and weight exceeding 4% may lead to heat illnesses.

Sports nutrition research recommends drinking 23 cups of water for each pound of body weight lost during a workout. Active adults typically don’t weigh in after a workout, so a good rule to follow is drinking plenty of fluids during and after physical activity to avoid dehydration.

Why Is Eating Protein Post

According to Schehr, “Dietary proteins are made up of amino acids, which are largely responsible for both muscle building and muscle repair. And exercise , although beneficial to building muscle, works by creating microscopic tears or damage to the existing muscle. The protein we eat, in turn, gets broken down into amino acids, which supplies the nutrients needed for repair of these damages.”

In short, we need protein after a workout to support the healing of our muscles. Makes sense right?

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What To Eat After A Workout

The cornerstone of post-workout nutrition is a careful combination of protein, carbohydrates and fluids. The basic recommendation is to consume 10 to 20 grams of protein after a workout, depending on your body weight, says Bonci. And depending on the type of exercise you completed, adjust your ratio of carbohydrates to protein, she adds.

For instance, after a strength-training workout, aim for a 2-to-1 ratio of carbs to protein . If you completed an endurance workout like jogging, the ratio shifts to 3-to-1 , says Bonci.

Another key component to keep in mind when fueling up post-workout: the intensity and duration of the exercise you just completed.

Recreational exercisers who train two to three times a week for 30 to 45 minutes can easily recover by having their usual balanced meal that contains carbs and protein , such as oatmeal and eggs, yogurt and granola, a sandwich and milk, or chicken and rice, says Nina Kolbe, a registered dietitian and Forbes Health Advisory Board member.

Meanwhile, those who spend 60 to 70 minutes working out at a higher intensity might benefit from a 200-calorie snack consisting of carbs and protein. And more serious athletes should refuel rapidly, aiming for a much higher-calorie, carbohydrate- and protein-based snack, says Kolbe.

What To Eat Before A Workout


The majority of nutrients in a pre workout meal should come from carbohydrates, as these macronutrients immediately fuel the body. Some protein should be consumed as well, but not a significant amount, as protein takes longer to digest and does not serve an immediate need for the beginning of an activity. Fat and dietary fiber also should be marginal to minimize the potential for gastrointestinal upset during the activity .

Research has demonstrated that the type of carbohydrate consumed does not directly affect performance across the board . Regular foods are ideal , but convenience foods may be helpful because you can determine the calories and the desired mix of carbohydrates, protein and fats.

Exercisers might also supplement with a piece of fruit, glass of low-fat chocolate milk or another preferred carbohydrate, depending on needs.

Pre-exercise fluids are critical to prevent dehydration. To allow time to excrete excess fluid, start at least 4 hours before an activity and aim for an intake of 5-7 milliliters of water per kilogram of body weight . Before that, the athlete should drink enough water and fluids so that urine color is pale yellow and dilute-indicators of adequate hydration.

See also this guide to meal prepping.

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Can You Eat Something Other Than A Protein Shake After Working Out

What your body needs post-workout are protein and carbohydrates. You do not have to get this from a protein shake, although a protein shake is one of the easiest and most effective sources of food after working out.

Protein shakes are convenient, so they do not take a lot of effort to make after you are done working out. They also go down easy, especially if you are not feeling hungry after working out.

The main reason a protein shake is a highly suggested post-workout meal, however, is because it is a liquid source of protein and carbs. Liquids are much easier and faster to digest than whole foods so they go right to work helping your body make its needed repairs.

Another reason a protein shake is a good choice is that it is balanced appropriately for a post-workout meal. This means it does not contain fat or other elements that slow down the digestive process, impeding the quick intake of protein and carbs.

Rule #: Follow These Rules Regardless Of Your Sport

Most people talk about protein supplementation in the context of strength and power training, but heres the thing: Endurance athletes build muscle, too. If youre a runner or a cyclist, your muscles might not be as large or as defined as those of a sprinter or a bodybuilder, but theyre made of the same stuff , and need to be fed the same stuff to grow stronger and become more efficient at producing energy and resisting fatigue.

Like strength training, endurance workouts also stimulate protein synthesis, according to researchers at Ball State University. In their study, protein synthesis increased 50 to 60 percent in the hours immediately following a 60-minute bike ride at a moderate pace.

Feeding your muscles protein during those hours can help you boost your endurance and become a stronger, more formidable athlete. Youll also bounce back from workouts faster, reducing the amount of time you need to recover between them, according to another study by the same researchers.

Bottom line: It doesnt matter what type of exercise you do increasing your protein intake is one of the smartest moves you can make to maximize your performance.


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Never Overlook Good Ol’ Fashioned Hydration

If you’re going to remember one thing, though, make it water. “Water is the most important building block you need after a workout,” Beck says. And during, for that matter. While extra long or hard workouts will require replenishing those electrolytes, recovering from just about any kind of workout goes way better if you’ve been staying hydrated.

Skipping a post-workout meal every once in a while isn’t a huge deal, but try not to make it a habit, especially after intense workouts. “You want to set yourself up for good patterns,” Beck says, because developing healthy habits is the easiest way to prevent burnout and injury. Exercise should be fun and bring you positive health benefits, not end in muscle tears or stress fractures. “Both hydration and nutrition are important parts of having healthy exercise habits.”

Is It Better To Stay Hydrated With Sports Drinks Or Plain Water

The Truth About The Post-Workout Window – Why You DON’T Need To Eat After Working Out!

Water is often enough. But if you’re exercising for more than 60 minutes in hot, humid conditions, sports drinks may help. They give you carbs and sodium, as well as fluids.

Sports drinks are also a good choice if you play team sports like soccer or football, especially when the temperature and humidity are high. If you sweat a lot, a sports drink might be preferable to water.


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A Simple Formula For Eating To Gain Muscle

In the same review mentioned earlier, Aragon and Schoenfeld created a simple formula for around-workout nutrition to maximize muscle growth:3

Eat about 0.4-0.5 grams of high quality protein per kilogram of lean body mass in your pre- and post-workout meal.

Heres how to use this formula if you weigh 100 kilos at 20% body fat:

1. Find your lean body mass.

100 kilos * lean body mass = 80 kilos

2. Multiply your lean body mass by 0.4 and 0.5.

80 * 0.4 = 32

80 * 0.5 = 40

In this case, you would want to eat between 32 and 40 grams of protein in your pre- and post-exercise meal. This would be equal to about 1.5-2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, or 1.5-2 scoops of whey protein.

Your pre- and post-workout meals should be at most 3-4 hours apart, assuming your workout is about 45-90 minutes. If you eat your protein in a mixed meal , you can probably wait 5-6 hours.

If you train fasted, eating about 6-grams of essential amino acids or branched chain amino acids, or 20-grams of whey protein before your workout can let you delay your post-workout meal for another 2-3 hours. When you do eat, its probably best to shoot for the upper end of the protein recommendations 0.5 grams per kilogram of lean body mass or slightly more.

It doesnt matter when you eat carbs for muscle growth as long as you eat enough by the end of the day.

What Can You Expect To Gain When Consuming Whey Protein Powder

Lose weight A great way to lose body fat while preserving more lean muscle.

Anti-cancer Whey protein concentrates have been used in cancer treatment schedules.

Lowers cholesterol After a few weeks of healthy consumption, it is possible to lose significant amounts of LDL as well as total body cholesterol.

Asthma treatment Asthma sufferers taking just ten grams of whey protein twice a day for a month could experience an improvement in their immune response capabilities, subsequently contributing towards the reduced symptoms of asthma.

Blood pressure and cardiovascular benefit Beverages supplemented with whey protein could reduce high blood pressure amongst those who suffer from hypertension. This subsequently could contribute towards reducing the risks of developing heart disease or stroke symptoms, again assuming that the diet is at least healthy and the subject is engaging in at least modest forms of exercise or physical activity.

And would you believe this if I told you? Dont shoot the messenger. Go to the internet and go on a fact-finding mission yourself. I read up about tests conducted amongst patients suffering from HIV. With or without their medication, its a well-known fact that theyre likely to experience a significant loss of weight, particularly in muscle mass. One study found that the use of whey protein could help restrict weight loss amongst such and similar patients.

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Reasons Eating After A Workout Might Increase Muscle Growth

After extensively reviewing the literature on this topic, Alan Aragon and Brad Schoenfeld summarized the three main theoretical reasons why its important to eat after exercise for muscle growth:3

1. Replenish muscle glycogen.

1. Replenish muscle glycogen.

Training with low muscle glycogen has a negative effect on muscle growth.

After exercise, your muscles are better able to turn glucose into glycogen. This effect disappears soon after a workout. Therefore, eating carbs about 1-2 hours after a workout will restock glycogen levels much faster than if you wait. This will, in theory, increase muscle growth and recovery.

2. Halt protein breakdown.

If you want to gain muscle, protein synthesis has to be greater than protein breakdown .

Protein Building Protein Breakdown = Muscle Growth or Loss

After a workout, muscle proteins degrade and rebuild faster than normal . In theory, consuming protein and/or carbs soon after a workout will stop muscle proteins from being broken down sooner, largely by spiking insulin levels. If fewer muscle proteins are destroyed after each workout, this could increase muscle growth over time.

3. Stimulate protein synthesis.

Eating protein after a workout is supposed to optimize the other side of the same equation by increasing muscle protein synthesis. This boost in protein synthesis after each workout is supposed to increase muscle mass.

When To Eat Before A Workout

When to Drink Protein Shakes

Timing is a huge consideration for preworkout nutrition. Too early and the meal is gone by the time the exercise begins too late and the stomach is uncomfortably sloshing food around during the activity. Although body size, age, gender, metabolic rate, gastric motility and type of training are all meal-timing factors to consider, the ideal time for most people to eat is about 2-4 hours before activity.

This much lead time can allow people to safely eat up to about 1,000 nutritious calories that will be ready for fueling the activity . If lead times are much shorter , eating a smaller meal of less than 300-400 calories about an hour before the workout can suffice.

It is customarily recommended that exercisers consume about 1 gram of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight 1 hour before working out, and 2 g of carbohydrate per kg of body weight if 2 hours before exercise, and so on .

For a 150-pound athlete, that would equate to about 68 g of carbohydrate, 1 hour before exercise. For reference, 1 serving of a carbohydrate food contains about 15 g of carbohydrate.

There are about 15 g of carbohydrate in each of the following: 1 slice of whole-grain bread, 1 orange, ½ cup cooked oatmeal, 1 small sweet potato or 1 cup low-fat milk. This 150-pound athlete could consider consuming: ½ cup oatmeal, 1 small apple, ½ cup low-fat yogurt and 4 ounces 100% fruit juice-all approximately 1 hour before working out.

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Different Needs For Different Workouts

Workouts arent all the same, so eating plans arent, either.

If youre into endurance-based activities like running, cycling or swimming, your diet should lean more heavily on carbs to supply a longer-lasting energy source. The rule of thumb is about 4 grams of carbohydrates for every gram of protein per meal, says Patton.

But protein should fill up more of your plate if youre focused on muscle-building strength training, such as powerlifting. On that plan, its about 2 grams of carbs for every gram of protein.

For an active person whos not necessarily focused specifically on endurance or strength training, camp out in the middle ground: 3 grams of carbs for every gram of protein.

What you eat and when you eat can be as important as your workout, says Patton. It deserves the same attention.

Rule #: Eat More At Every Meal

According to a recent CDC survey, the average guy consumes about 102 grams of protein per day, and the average woman consumes about 70 grams per day. While thats nearly twice the amount recommended by the Institute of Medicine, some experts feel its not nearly enough if you exercise intensely, regularly, and with the intent to build muscle. Consume at least 1 gram of protein per pound of lean mass per day, suggests Schoenfeld.

Many scales will give you both your total weight and your body fat percentage. To calculate your lean body mass, multiply your TBM by your BF percentage, and then subtract that number from your TBM. If youre a 165-pound man in decent shape, your lean body mass will be about 135 grams. If youre a moderately-fit, 120-pound woman, thats about 95 grams.

That might sound like a lot, but when you divide it among three or four meals, it becomes entirely manageable. Spreading your protein throughout the day is key, says Schoenfeld, as is eating enough of it at each meal.

Most people backload their protein, eating more carbs early in the day and more protein later on. But distributing your protein intake evenly amongst several meals can elevate protein synthesis by up to 25 percent, according to a recent study in the Journal of Nutrition.

Protein is inherently anabolic, says Schoenfeld. When you eat a protein-rich meal, it promotes protein synthesis for up to six hours afterward.

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What About Early Morning Exercise

If youre waking up and working out, loading up with a meal a few hours ahead of time isnt exactly an option.

When you wake up, your blood sugar is at your lowest, says Patton. Eating something like a piece of fruit or granola bar can give you a needed boost.

Consider the intensity of your workout, too. If its an easy-going, 30-minute session, you may be able to get away with skipping a pre-workout snack. But if youre going for an hour or more, you really should get something to eat, says Patton.

Working out on an empty stomach also could cost you what youre trying to build namely, muscle. Its beneficial to have some protein, the building blocks of muscle, in your system while training If you want to grow and strengthen muscles.

Stamina may also be an issue if your body is running low on fuel, meaning your workout could quickly turn into a dud.

Youre better off to eat, says Patton. It doesnt have to be much. Just enough to get through.

Consuming Protein After A Workout

Why you should ALWAYS eat AFTER your workout/ What to eat before and after your workout

You need to understand that your body is affected when you get involved in any kind of physical activity. When you exercise, your muscles use up glycogen that is stored in them. Your body gets depleted of glycogen. A few proteins in your muscles may be broken down and damaged.

Your body tries to rebuild its glycogen and restore it post workout. It is important to eat the right nutrients immediately after your session so that the muscles can repair faster. When you take protein supplements, it helps to regrow the muscle proteins.

The amount of protein intake depends on the level of training and fitness goals. Well-trained athletes may have to consume more protein for getting their muscles recovered. Usually, one can consume 0.14 to 0.23 grams of protein per pound of your body weight. According to recent studies, consumption of 20-40 grams of protein helps in faster recovery of muscles after exercise.

At Joondalup PersonalTrainer understand the importance of protein post-workout that is why weoffer a complimentary protein shake after every session.

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