We all know we need protein after a workout. But how much protein you need after a workout, and why? Hint: You don’t need a blender bottle of raw eggs.
How Much Protein You Need After a Workout & Why
Why do you need protein?
Post-workout nutrition is one of the most important aspects of a fitness plan – arguably as important as the workout itself!
Fitness experts agree that 20 grams of protein following a workout is ideal. This is because proteins are made of amino acids, which are the small building blocks necessary for synthesizing muscle. Translation: protein helps repair and rebuild muscle. Try to get your protein in within about 45 mins of a workout; this provides your body with the fuel it needs to prevent it from breaking down muscle tissue for energy.
Many women balk at the phrase “build muscle.” Trust me, 20 grams of protein after a workout isn’t going to turn you into a bodybuilder. Women have to work very, very hard to build muscle like that.
Building muscle is actually a key to weight loss; an extra pound of muscle can burn 50-100 calories per day! Raise your hand if you think that would suck. Riiiiiight…
If you’re like me an WANT to be Wonder Woman, you should know that more is not more when it comes to protein. There is only so much the body can process in one sitting. The rule of thumb is to consume about 20 grams at a time. Your daily total should be about 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.*
Example: If you weigh 125 lbs, that works out to 100 grams of protein per day. 125 x 0.8 = 100
*This is a general rule – it can vary based on your training goals and build. Endurance athletes generally need a bit less, fitness competitors need more. If you’re interested in learning more, check out my philosophy here and reach out!
What kind of protein should you consume?
When choosing a protein powder, pick a high quality, fast-absorbing protein. Whey powder is commonly recommended because it’s a rich source of leucine, the amino acid that activates tissue rebuilding. It can be hard to find a clean whey protein, but this one has some good ingredients.
There are a ton of clean vegan protein powders, if that’s your jam. I’m not vegan, but personally use a rice protein powder. Studies have shown the amino acids are delivered to the body over an extended amount of time, but that the leucine absorbs faster from rice protein.
Not a protein powder fan but still don’t want to chow down on chicken right after working out? Try low far Greek yogurt or cottage cheese. I’ve even been known to use tofu in smoothies.
My take? Find a clean protein that you like. If you like it, you’ll actually eat it. That’s the most important part. It’s not going to help you if you don’t consume it.
Is protein powder better than “real” food?
The majority of your diet should still consist of whole foods. This isn’t to be eaten 5 meals a day. Protein powder IS a great way to get your 20 grams in quickly following a workout.
I am often too hot after a workout to think about solid food. Cooling off with smoothie is perfect until I am ready to have a proper meal.
Interested in learning more?
I offer personalized online training and nutrition programs! Check out my philosophy here and fill out the from for more. I also have a free Macro Calculator to help you determine the best breakdown for you lifestyle.
I literally have a smoothie bowl after every workout. It’s like an ice cream treat!
Do you make sure to take in protein after a workout?
What is your favorite protein source?