From whey protein to pea protein and protein coffee, there are so many options for high-protein post-workout drinks. You can have such drinks during or immediately after your workout.

You can also sit down for a feast of grilled chicken breasts or eggs with bacon after an intense exercise session.

Protein is a key component of post-workout nutrition as it plays an important role in muscle repair and growth. But how much protein should you eat after a workout to maximize your gains and accelerate recovery?

Let's find out!

Key Takeaways:

  • Post-workout protein intake is essential for muscle recovery and growth.
  • To optimize muscle protein synthesis and recovery, make sure to take your protein within the “window of opportunity”.
  • How much protein to eat after a workout depends on various factors such as your body weight, how intense your workout was, and your fitness goals.
  • Include a variety of protein-rich foods in your post-workout meals to support your fitness journey effectively.

How much protein do I really need after a workout?

How much protein you will need after a workout depends on the type and intensity of the exercises you do. This also varies depending on individual factors such as your age, sex, body weight, and health goals.

On average, bodybuilders, athletes, and fitness enthusiasts may need 1.6 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight to support their fitness goals .

For example, if your weight is 154 pounds or 70 kilograms, your protein intake can range from 112 to 154 grams of protein per day within your overall diet.

Do you take protein before or after a workout?

Protein can be taken before, during, and after your workout to boost workout performance, support muscle growth, and speed up muscle recovery. You can have a protein-rich meal an hour or two before your workout to fuel your workout.

For most people, about 20g of protein supplementation during or immediately after your workout is enough to maximize your post-workout muscle protein synthesis rates .
If you are doing full-body workouts, you may need more protein after the workout. According to researchers, the amount of protein needed post-workout for maximum activation of muscle protein synthesis (MPS) is dictated by the amount of muscle mass used during the workout . Study participants taking 40 grams of protein supplement following whole-body resistance exercise were found to have a greater MPS response than those who had just 20 grams of the same.
Whey protein supplements are found to be most effective in increasing post-exercise muscle protein synthesis rates due to their specific amino acid composition and rapid digestion

However, plant protein may be suitable for you if you are lactose intolerant or suffer from digestive troubles after consuming whey supplements.

Why should you take protein after a workout?

Taking protein after a workout offers numerous benefits related to workout performance and muscle building.

1. Preservation of lean muscle mass

If you've engaged in intense or prolonged exercise, your body may enter a state of increased muscle breakdown after the workout. Protein intake immediately after the workout inhibits muscle protein breakdown by providing amino acids for muscle repair and maintenance. This helps preserve lean muscle mass and supports overall muscle health.

2. Supports muscle recovery

Protein provides the essential amino acids necessary for repairing muscle tissue damaged during exercise. Researchers have noted that protein intake during or immediately after your workout helps your muscles adapt and improve in response to each workout you do. The availability of required amino acids helps your muscles recover and become stronger after each workout session

3. Better muscle protein synthesis

Eating protein after working out stimulates muscle protein synthesis. It also promotes muscle growth or muscle enlargement after resistance as well as endurance-type workouts.

4. Reduces muscle soreness

The increased rate of recovery and muscle protein synthesis reduces muscle soreness and enables you to get ready faster for your next workout session.

5. Increased strength and performance

If you are consistent with your protein intake after workouts, you will see significant improvements in your strength, power, and athletic performance as your body adapts to the challenges.

How long after a workout should I take protein?

You can take some protein within an hour or two of working out. But don't worry too much if this gets delayed a bit.

To maximize post-workout muscle protein synthesis, it is recommended to have protein after a workout within the “window of opportunity”. Previous studies on the topic suggested protein consumption within 45 minutes to an hour of completing a workout.

Thankfully, this window does not appear to be as narrow as once thought. Some researchers suggested that “the interval for consumption may be as wide as 5 to 6 hours after exercise depending on the timing of the pre-workout meal; the closer a meal is consumed before exercise, the larger the post-workout anabolic window of opportunity”

What happens if I don’t eat enough protein after working out?

If you don’t eat enough protein after working out, it can inhibit muscle repair and growth.

Lack of protein can reduce muscle protein synthesis and lead to muscle loss. It can increase muscle soreness and delay your overall recovery. So it is vital to include protein-rich foods in your post-exercise meals and snacks to optimize your post-workout nutrition and support your fitness goals.

You can even have protein shakes for breakfast to meet your daily protein needs. Meal replacement shakes are another option, but be sure to check their protein content first. Proffee may be your best choice if you are looking to kickstart your day with a healthy energy drink. The combination of coffee and protein is also a great pre-workout drink, as it can help you power through your workout.

What foods should I avoid after working out?

After a workout, it’s best to avoid the following foods:

  • Heavy meals rich in unhealthy fats, such as fried foods and creamy sauces, can slow digestion and lead to lethargy.
  • Excessive fiber-rich foods immediately after a workout may cause digestive discomfort or bloating.
  • Sugary drinks like soda and fruit juices can spike blood sugar levels without providing nutritional benefits. You should keep an eye on your daily sugar intake.
  • Processed snacks like chips, cookies, and candy bars offer little nutritional value and may hinder muscle repair.
  • Alcohol can impair muscle recovery, dehydrate the body, and interfere with nutrient absorption.

How much protein should a beginner have after a workout?

Beginners can aim for 15 to 20 grams of protein after a workout to support muscle recovery and growth. This amount can vary depending on individual factors such as body weight, exercise intensity, and personal goals.

Here are some tips for beginners:

  • Experiment with different protein-rich foods: Don’t stick to just chicken breasts or peanut butter for your protein intake. There is a wide range of protein foods you can experiment with. Don’t be afraid to try new foods and recipes.
  • Choose high-quality protein sources: To ensure you're getting all the essential amino acids needed for muscle repair and growth, choose high-quality protein sources such as lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, and plant-based protein sources.
  • Consider protein supplements: While whole foods should be the primary source of protein in your diet, protein supplements are convenient options for a post-workout shake.
  • Stay hydrated: Adequate hydration is essential for nutrient absorption, optimal muscle recovery, and overall health. So make sure to drink plenty of water before and after a workout.
  • Listen to your body: For optimal muscle recovery and growth, you should adjust your protein intake based on how your body responds to different protein intake levels and timings.



You should definitely have some protein after working out to maximize your workout performance, muscle recovery, and muscle growth.

You can have a light pre-workout meal that includes some protein. You can have a protein drink during your workouts if it's a long session. Post-workout, it's best to have some protein within an hour or two of your workout.

For beginners, about 15 to 20 grams of protein post-workout should be adequate. However, if you are serious about your muscle-building goals and looking to maximize your MPS, try experimenting with 40 grams of protein supplementation after full body workouts.

Ultimately, how much protein you should take depends on your personal needs and goals. So find out what works best for you.



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