Nutrition • 28.09.2017 • Lunden Souza

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.

Jemand macht sich einen Proteinshake nach dem Training

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 by using a food tracking app like Balance 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.

Ein Glas Erdnussbutter-Bananen-Shake auf einer Holzplatte

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. Download the Balance app, select your goal and take a look at your protein allotment for the day. 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. The Balance app will be able to tell you how much you need whether your goal is fat loss or adding muscle.

Looking for a delicious post-workout meal with a sufficient amount of protein? Try out these banana pancakes with oats, this colorful glass noodle salad or beef and quinoa stuffed tomatoes from the Runtasty app.


Lunden Souza

Lunden Souza is a Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Nutrition Specialist & the Runtastic Fitness Coach. This California native started out as an at-home personal trainer in Orange County, California for 5 years, then moved to work at Runtastic headquarters in Austria in March 2014. She inspires Runtastics worldwide with weekly fitness, nutrition and wellness tips via the Runtastic Fitness Channel on YouTube. She loves to do yoga, cook, run in the sun and go for long bike rides listening to her favorite podcasts.

View all posts by Lunden Souza »

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  • MikeEnRegalia

    Really, the protein absorption myth? Can’t you at least try to get the science right? There are many proper reasons for not eating excessive amounts of protein, but this is not one of them. Besides, excess protein is burned for energy, not converted to fat.

    • DaBoss

      The body will convert nutrients according to how readily available they are: sugars/fats/protein. If it has all it needs the rest will be converted to fat as it is easily stored. Therefore excess protein will be converted to fat.

  • Jim Jablonski

    You said our body only absorbs 20g of protein. I have read 30g in the past. How often can I eat protein? Every 2 hours?

    • Runtastic Team

      Hi Jim, try to eat a protein source with every meal.

  • Captain Vyom

    Thanks for the article. I was told that one needs some form of carb along with every protein shake to spike insulin which would then push the amino acids into the cells. I was suggested to have a banana with each protein shake (1 scoop of whey, 24 gms protein).

    Is the banana required? And also, since you say that the body only absorbs 20gms at a time, am I wasting those extra gms in every scoop?

    • Runtastic Team

      Hi there, we would recommend you to combine protein with carbs after an intense training session.

      Your Runtastic Team

    • MikeEnRegalia

      Protein spikes insulin, too … no reason to eat carbs for this specific reason. Might nevertheless be useful in tefms of (partial) glycogen repletion.

    • DaBoss

      Most “protein shakes” contain carbs, so look up how much you are taking before you add carbs.

  • PatienceTew

    When and where does creatine fit into the picture?

    • Runtastic Team

      Taking creatine after working out can be a good idea. Especially if you are a vegetarian who does a lot of strength training. But just remember that more isn’t always better.

      • PatienceTew

        Thanks, I’ll keep this in mind.

    • DaBoss

      Research shows that men who have male pattern baldness will lose hair faster if they take more that 5g of Creatine per day, so bear that in mind.

  • Joshua Smith

    You need to do your research before posting articles like this! This myth has been debunked over and over for years now. Your body will adapt to the amount of protein you eat per meal. Consistently eating larger amounts of protein per meal will mean your body will adapt to absorb that amount per meal. One way this is confirmed is by something like intermittent fasting, often these meals have extremely high amounts of calories (and protein!!) if 20g was all that the body absorbed and the rest stored as fat, then these type of diets wouldn’t work! Funny enough, they do! They are one of the best ways to lose fat and gain muscle! Do your research!!

    • Runtastic Team

      Dear Joshua, thanks for your comment! We recommend eating a source of protein with every single meal of the day.

      Your Runtastic Team

  • Agree with the points in the article. Too much protein is not only waste of it but also detrimental to liver and kidneys. Food is always the better source over any quality of protein shake/powder.

  • Fahmi Bassem

    I’ve no problem with advertising apps, but can you please refer to a web based app for Balance? (I don’t use IOS neither Android…)

    • Runtastic Team

      Sorry, we can’t give you any information about that.

      Your Runtastic Team