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Why Protein Is Important After a Workout

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If you’re at all interested in fitness or sports, you’ve likely heard that you should eat protein after a workout. But does it actually matter? The short answer is yes, but the long answer is a bit more nuanced. Read on to find out all about the benefits of protein after a workout.

Why Should I Consume Protein?

So you’ve worked out, you’ve pushed yourself, and now you’re exhausted and sore.  Here is where protein comes in.  Providing the appropriate amount of protein to your muscles after an intense workout serves to both decrease muscle protein breakdown (MPB) and increase muscle protein synthesis (MPS).  This is beneficial because you generally want to maximize MPS and minimize MPB.  When MPS is greater than MPB, muscle growth occurs. 

 

Studies have also shown that when it is consumed after a workout, protein plays a role in replenishing the glycogen stores in your muscles that were depleted during your workout. Thus, protein can help you reap the most benefits from your workout, while also enhancing your recovery and preventing muscle degradation. 

When Should I Consume Protein?

There has long been debate about the so called “anabolic window.”  This period, also sometimes called the metabolic window, has been described as the ideal time to consume protein for muscle recovery and growth.  It is considered to be the immediate 30 minute period after a workout.  There have been many studies designed and completed on this subject with some conflicting findings. Studies that have supported the importance of consuming protein during this anabolic window have not been consistently corroborated.

 

However, studies have consistently shown that protein intake near the time of workout (pre or post) in general does in fact impact muscle strength and size positively. 

 

All that being said, we would recommend replenishing your body post training sooner rather than later to see greater benefits. However, the idea that you absolutely must eat within 30 minutes of finishing your workout to reap any benefits isn’t consistently supported by research.

 

*The one exception is if you are training fasted (for example, if you train in the morning before eating breakfast).  In this case, your muscle protein breakdown will be much higher directly following training. Supplementing with protein or a meal as soon as possible after a fasted workout has been proven to decrease muscle protein breakdown.

How Much Protein Should I Consume?

The ideal amount of protein will depend on a number of factors, including how intense your workout was, and whether you are looking to bulk up or merely replenish your muscle store.  The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends that healthy individuals consume 0.14-0.23 grams of protein per pound of body weight. If you are training intensely or looking to gain muscle, then you may want to consume even more protein.  0.8 – 1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight are the upper limit to useful protein intake daily. Another general rule of thumb supported by a number of studies is that 20-40 grams of protein seems to be the ideal range in which the body can maximize its recovery. 

What Are Some Good Sources of Protein?

There are a wide variety of foods and supplements that can supply the protein you need. Complete proteins containing all 9 amino acids are best for building and repairing muscle. Protein bars like Elevated Gains are some of the best sources of protein post-workout.  With 20+ grams of complete protein accompanied by all-natural sweetener, our bars are great for muscle recovery.  Elevated Gains is a great workout recovery protein bar for athletes at any level. 

What Else Should I Consume After a Workout?

Some studies have suggested that CBD after a workout can have a range of health benefits as well. Eating both CBD and protein together may help to provide the best muscle recovery possible. 

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