By 2nd Lt. Stephanie Ticer February 6, 2017
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- The more protein you eat after your workout the better, right? While protein plays an important role in muscle repair and growth post-workout, eating or drinking more than recommended may not have any additional benefits. So how much protein do you really need?
First, let's look into the basics of protein. Protein is a macronutrient that gives the body energy; in fact there are four calories in every one gram of protein. It has many functions in the body including muscle repair and growth. Beans, meats, dairy products and nuts are some sources of food that contain protein. While he recommended dietary allowance for protein in one day is 0.36 gram of protein per one pound of body weight, protein needs differ depending on the type of physical activity. According to the Sports Nutrition Care Manuel from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, protein needs are 0.55-0.77 gram per pound a day for endurance training and 0.64-.77 gram per pound a day for strength training.
Now you know how much protein you need in a day, what about after a workout? About 20-30 grams of protein around 30-60 minutes after resistance training will give your body what it needs to repair muscle tissue and help in muscle growth. Protein greater than 30 grams after a workout is not related to additional muscle growth or improved performance. Most individuals do not need protein from supplements and can get enough from food alone. For some, supplements may be more convenient than eating a meal or snack, but they are typically costlier than buying foods that contain protein.
Ideally, post-workout food or drinks should have carbs as well as protein. Carbs will replace the energy that was used during training and protein will work on repairing muscle. Aim for 0.5 gram of carbs for every one pound of body weight for your post-workout food or drink immediately after training or as soon as you can. Some healthy workout snacks include 20 ounces of non-fat cholocate milk, a sandwich with three ounces of lean meat and a medium apple, or a fruit smoothie made with one cup of milk, one-half cup of fruit and one scoop of whey protein.
More protein is not always better; try to aim for 20-30 grams of protein after a workout. Protein is important for muscle recovery and growth but don't forget about carbs after your workout; they are your body's main source of energy. Lastly, supplements may be a convenient source of protein but they are usually more expensive than protein found in food.
For more information regarding protein or diet concerns, contact your local registered dietitian.