Nutrition Tips: How Much Protein Do You Really Need Post Workout?
How much protein do I really need after my workout? Do I have to drink a protein shake immediately after my training? Does more protein mean more fat burning or more muscles — or both? I am sure many of you reading this have asked yourself these questions before. If you checked the Internet for the answers, you’ve probably found yourself drowning in too much information and never really found the answers. Or perhaps you’ve asked the buffest guy in the gym who told you more protein is always better. No matter what you’ve heard before — I am really glad you’re here now. Let’s address these questions one by one.
1. How much protein do I really need after my workout?
Let’s start off by saying that just because you eat (or drink via protein shake) heaps of protein after your workout doesn’t mean that your body is absorbing it. This is why just shoveling as much protein as possible into your system after your workout isn’t the best idea and actually a waste. Your body can only process approximately 20 g of protein at a time. So what happens to all the extra protein? Well, it’s probably getting stored as fat. Yes, it is critical that you get an adequate amount of protein post-workout (within 30-60 minutes), but that doesn’t mean that more is better. You’re better off figuring out how much protein your body needs overall and then equally distributing your protein consumption throughout the day — leaving 20 g to refuel post-workout.
2. Do I really have to drink a protein shake after my training?
Protein shakes serve a purpose — they are quick and convenient. Whey protein is already broken down and the most bioavailable post-workout type of protein powder. It’s basically ready for your body to absorb without having to do so much work. Now, can you always have real food after your training? Of course! Protein powder is a supplement and real food can always be consumed instead. Do I personally take protein shakes after a workout? Yes, I do. This is because of the reasons I mentioned before: quick and convenient. If I am training in the morning, I add 20 g of protein to my morning smoothie or, if I train in the afternoon, I just add my protein to some almond milk and drink it that way. It’s important that you look for a good quality protein powder without artificial ingredients, chemicals, fillers, etc. because, remember, your liver has to detox all those chemicals. But keep in mind that the higher quality the protein, the more you have to pay. Instead of settling for a protein powder you found on sale, go for real foods instead.
I also would like to mention that if you work out before a meal, eat that meal! You don’t have to have a protein shake if it’s time for lunch and you’re planning on eating something for lunch. Take the time to think about your workout timing. If it’s in between meals, a protein shake could be a good idea.
3. Does more protein mean more muscles or more fat burning — or both?
Let’s get rid of the mindset that “more protein” is better! Let’s go back to what I said about identifying how much protein you should be consuming overall in a day and then separate it into meals and snacks. Reserve 20 g of protein for after your workout and then have the rest with your other meals. Not so complicated, right? Protein plays a role in both fat burning and muscle building.