Ever wondered how much protein you need after exercise? The best time to consume protein? Or even the best quality of protein to consume?
Well, here’s your complete guide of proteins for optimal muscles.
Various research has been conducted on this topic, and the consensus is that 20-25g of protein is sufficient to maximally allow for muscle growth and recovery after a workout, specifically after resistance training.
A specific study rings to mind (Moore et al., 2009)that compared that ingestion of 0, 10, 20, 30 and 40 grams of isolated egg protein ingestion following resistance exercise in young men. The authors found that muscle protein synthesis was maximally stimulated at 10g and even more at 20g of protein ingestion following resistance exercise. There was no difference in protein synthesis when they doubled the intake of protein (40g).
So if you’re wondering how much you need after exercise, anywhere between 20-25g of protein is enough to help your muscles grow and recover!
There are two sides of the coin when it comes to discussing the timing of protein intake. Some scientists argue that it’s most effective to consume protein immediately after exercise, while others suggest a 24 hour window of opportunity whereby we can stimulate protein synthesis within 24 hours post-exercise.
To be honest, the evidence is quite strong pertaining to the 24 hour window of opportunity we have to maximize protein synthesis. Provided you are consuming an adequate amount of protein (20-25g) after your workout and at each meal during the day, you shouldn’t worry about rushing to the locker room immediately after your workout to drink your protein shake.
On the flip side though, drinking a protein shake immediately after exercise does no harm, especially if you know you won’t be eating your next meal an hour or more after exercise. If anything, the pros of doing so outweigh the cons.
I generally drink my protein shake after my cool down session and have a protein-rich meal an hour or so later to further help with muscle recovery.
The evidence goes both ways to be honest, so just know what your schedule is post-exercise and make the decision for yourself. If you won’t be eating until a couple of hours after your workout, then definitely have the protein shake or at least a protein-filled snack (more on this soon!). If you’re not into taking protein supplements, or planning to have your meal anywhere between 30 min – 1 hour after your workout, then having nothing immediately afer exercise and relying on that meal is absolutely fine. Just make sure your meal is protein-rich!
There are several methods to assess the quality of proteins, including the amino acid profile of proteins and the digestibility and absorption of amino acids by the body.
Of the available evidence on protein quality and sources, animal proteins are considered to be superior to plant proteins as they have a greater amino acid content, especially branched chain amino acids, and are more efficiently digested in the body and absorbed by the muscles. Sorry vegans/vegetarians but that’s the fact of the matter. The same with dairies.
In terms protein shakes, your best bet is supplementing with whey protein as it’s a fast-digesting protein that rapidly enters the muscle to begin aiding with muscle growth and repair. Casein protein is a viable option, but it will just take longer for it to get absorbed by the muscle as it’s a slow-digesting protein.
With all this being said, proteins are absolutely vital to consume if you exercise on a daily basis. They help maintain muscle integrity and increase muscle growth and repair. The last thing you want is to start losing muscle due to a lack in protein consumption. Make sure you get the best out of your workout by choosing proteins of the best quality and knowing when and how much to consume. Nutrition and exericse go hand in hand!
Moore, D. R., Robinson, M. J., Fry, J. L., Tang, J. E., Glover, E. I., Wilkinson, S. B. et al. (2009a). Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89, 161–168.