How Much Protein Intake is Needed After Exercising?

After training, it's appropriate to ingest protein in order to maximize muscle recovery and anabolic processes.
How Much Protein Intake is Needed After Exercising?

Last update: 23 July, 2020

Protein is the macronutrient involved in muscle recovery. Therefore, protein intake is essential in the moments before and after a physical workout.

It was once a common belief that protein intake should come after a workout to maximize recovery and anabolism. Nowadays, this theory is questionable. New trends suggest that protein intake before or after a training session may be similar in terms of protein synthesis effects.

Amount of protein intake needed to recover tissue

Either shortly before or after physical activity, the minimum amount of protein accepted for optimal muscle recovery is 20 grams. It’s best to ingest a protein of high biological value that contains all of the essential amino acids and good digestibility.

For this, the best choice is consuming a portion of your food from animal origin or a whey protein shake. In the case of using proteins from vegetable origin, the best option is to combine several foods to ensure a complete amino acid profile.

Protein intake: combining protein and carbohydrates after training

In anaerobic or high-performance sports, protein intake should combine with a larger serving of carbohydrates in order to maximize recovery. The hydrate-protein ingestion ratio must be at 2:1 or higher. This way, the filling of glycogen deposits can be ensured.

This nutritional strategy decreases the risk of muscle injury in subsequent sessions and improves the construction of lean tissue. When making this combination, the intake must be invariably done after a training session.

lean protein intake

In addition, in these types of situations, it may be interesting to consume carbohydrates with a high glycemic index. These stimulate insulin production and improves the filling of glycogen deposits and protein assimilation.

Protein intake: more isn’t always better

Exceeding the recommended daily amount of protein will have no beneficial effect on the body or on performance. Contrary to what many athletes think, an excessive intake of this macronutrient increases kidney stress. This can cause complications in the medium and long term.

As a general rule, the protein needs for a strength athlete are between 0.04 and 0.07 ounces of protein per every 2.2 lb of body weight. However, this can vary according to the needs and objectives of each person.

With an intake of 0.05 oz/2.2 lb of weight, it’s possible that a wide spectrum of individuals will achieve an anabolic effect, which assumes a correct muscle recovery. Intakes of more than 0.07 oz/2.2 lb of weight per day won’t provide any adaptive advantage and will increase work and kidney wear.

To maximize the effect of training

In the case of choosing the option of administering the protein—and the carbohydrate—by means of protein shakes, it may be interesting to introduce some other ergogenic aids to improve the overall effect. In this way, creatine can increase maximum strength values and prevent muscle injury.

Another option is to include beta-alanine as a buffer system to reduce the feeling of fatigue. Finally, you can supplement the carb/protein shake with an extra dose of leucine. This amino acid is the main tissue builder in the body. It also has the ability to reduce pain in athletes undergoing very intense training programs.

In addition, the latest bibliographic articles record the power of chromium picolinate supplementation to improve body composition. So, in the case of a hypocaloric diet, the strategy of increasing protein intake and supplementing with chromium can be used to minimize muscle catabolism and maximize fat tissue burning.

Protein intake to improve body composition.

Protein after training: conclusion

After training, it’s appropriate to ingest protein to be able to maximize muscle recovery and anabolic processes. This intake should be at least 0.70 ounces. This can also pair well with a carbohydrate that has a high glycemic index.

If we add glucose to the post-workout shake, we’ll promote the use of the mTOR pathway of the metabolism, which has a highly anabolic character and is related to tissue construction processes.

However, it must be clear that the daily protein intake must have a limit. Exceeding 0.70 oz of protein per 2.2 lb of bodyweight is usually not beneficial since it puts the kidneys and the liver under great stress.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Butts J., Jacobs B., Silvis M., Creatine use in sports. Sports health, 2018. 10 (1): 31-34.
  • Yoon MS., mTor as a key regulator in maintaning skeletal muscle mass. Front Physiol, 2017.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.