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How Much Protein Do You Need After a Workout?

author image Derek Helderman
Derek Helderman is a Bariatric Registered Dietitian currently working in a nutrition counseling role. Helderman graduated summa cum laude from Southeast Missouri State and completed his dietetic internship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.
How Much Protein Do You Need After a Workout?
Adequate protein after a workout has been shown to improve recovery and muscle building. Photo Credit: Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Protein plays an important role in repairing and maintaining muscles. After a workout or strenuous competition, this role is even more important for proper recovery and muscle building. While protein needs can vary after a workout, competitive athletes or those wishing to gain muscle mass require a higher protein intake than most.

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Protein After Workouts

Consuming 25 grams of protein after a workout is sufficient to maximally stimulate protein synthesis, which will help recovery and help build muscle, according to the 2009 article, "Nutrition and Muscle Protein Synthesis: A Descriptive Review, published in the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association. This review also concluded that for maximum effect, this protein consumption should occur within two hours of completing the workout.

Chocolate Milk Beneficial as Post-Workout Drink

The optimal post-workout beverage might be found on your refrigerator shelf rather than in a nutrition supplement store. Low-fat chocolate milk drinkers built more muscle after four and a half weeks of training than their carbohydrate beverage-consuming counterparts, according to a study noted in the article entitled, “Chocolate Milk Gives Athletes Leg-up After Exercise, Says University of Texas at Austin Study.” This resulted in a three-pound lean muscle advantage for the chocolate milk drinkers.

Other Sources of Protein

If protein has been shown to be beneficial after a workout, does that mean your post-workout protein has to come from a beverage? The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association says "no." Their review of literature found that soy, whey, and casein protein were all beneficial after workouts. Protein can be found in many foods, including meats, beans, nuts, seeds and dairy products.

Total Protein Requirements

While 25 grams of protein within two hours of a workout aids in muscle recovery and building, it is important to know how much total protein you should consume daily. An adult athlete looking to build muscle should consume roughly 0.64 to 0.82 grams per pound of body weight, according to Montana State University-Bozeman's Sports Nutrition site. This equals about 89 to 114 grams of protein per day for a 140-pound person. In comparison, the recommended protein intake for a normal, physically active adult is 0.4 grams of protein per pound.

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