Is Protein Absolutely Necessary After A Workout? This is a great question that gets asked all the time. The straight forward answer is YES.
WHY is it important you ask.
Proteins transport many key substances such as oxygen, vitamins and minerals throughout the body. Also, our bodies constantly assemble, break down and use proteins to rebuild. When the body lacks protein, it breaks down tissue like muscle and uses it as a protein source. As a result our muscles, organs and other tissues begin to waste. If that wasn’t bad enough, protein deficiency causes the body to be susceptible to infection, impairs digestion and the absorption of nutrients.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. We have thousands of different proteins in our bodies and each protein has a specific function.
During a workout, the body directs its energy and amino acids to support muscle contraction. That means it is not supporting protein synthesis during the workout. To prevent your body from using its own muscle tissue for energy protein syntheses must occur within the first 30 minutes after exercise
To sum it all up, post-workout protein consumption provides the necessary amino acids used in protein synthesis for the restoration of muscles.
What type of protein should you eat?
Many people link protein with animal foods such as beef, chicken or fish. However, plant based foods such as beans, peas, nuts, seeds and vegetables also provide protein. With a vegetarian diet the pairing of foods become very important in order to assure that all essential amino acids are being consumed.
Here are some basic sample meals that equal to about 40 to 45 grams of protein each:
6oz. chicken breast (no skin) + 1 cup quinoa + 2 cups baby kale
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt + 1 scoop whey protein + 1/2 cup berries
4oz. of tuna + 1/2 cup black beans + 2 cups baby spinach + 1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 cup cottage cheese + 4 tbsp hemp seeds + 1 cup chopped pineapple
6oz. filet mignon + 1 medium sweet potato + 2 tbsp pesto
6oz. salmon fillet + 1 cup white quinoa + 1 cup of broccoli
RULE of THUMB How much protein should be consumed post workout?
Post-workout protein needs are dependent on training goals and body weight.
The Recommended Daily Allowance for protein for all adults, regardless of age, is set at 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
To Calculate: Convert pounds to kilograms (pounds ÷ 2.2) & Multiply kg by 0.8 = Protein RDA in g
Want to make it a bit easier? ...Here is the standard recommendation:
20-40 grams of protein post workout to add muscle (effectively stimulated muscle protein synthesis—the process that helps promote muscle repair and growth after exercise.
Dieting to lose body fat and eating a reduced number of calories also necessitates a higher protein intake to help preserve lean body mass.