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Post-Workout Protein 101
Everyone knows that protein plays a vital role in muscle-building, so it's easy to understand why you need to eat protein AFTER your workout. By having a post-workout meal, snack, or shake with plenty of protein, you deliver the amino acids your body needs to repair the muscle tissue damaged by your workout (a good thing). But how much protein should you take? What type is best? Should you eat more or less according to your body size? Below, we answer these questions for you…
How Much Protein?
Talk to a professional trainer or dietician, and they'll tell you that the average athlete needs anywhere from 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. The more active you are, the higher your protein intake. Of course, this is the recommendation for those who are trying to pack on the muscle. If your goal is to lose weight and maintain lean muscle mass, stick in the 1 to 1.2 grams per kilogram range.
How to Get Protein
Of course a post-workout protein shake is always your best and easiest way to get protein, but it's not the ONLY option. You need to spread your protein intake throughout the day, as that's the only way your body will be able to digest and put it to use. Figure out how much protein you need (using the formula above), and divide that into your three or four meals and snacks per day. You should consume the most protein immediately after the workout, but you should make sure to get plenty throughout the rest of the day as well.
What Type of Protein?
Whey and casein protein are the two most common protein powders, but they are very different beasts. Whey protein is quick-acting and easier for your body to digest quickly, while casein protein takes longer and delivers a steady supply of amino acids over a prolonged period of time. So which is right for you? Well, if you're working out first thing in the morning, casein protein can help to repair your muscles throughout the day. If you're working out last thing in the evening, it will promote recovery overnight. However, whey protein gives you a quick boost of energy that will help you get through the next few hours of work day. Consider combining proteins if you're taking them in the middle of the day, or taking a bit of casein protein with your whey protein to ensure longer, better muscle recovery.
Will You Need More?
If you pack on the pounds of muscle through your workout, will you need to increase your protein intake? Yes, but not as much as you think! Remember that you're only consuming between 1 and 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. If your bodyweight drastically rises, you will need to seriously increase your protein intake. However, for the average person, weight increase (courtesy of increased lean muscle mass) is slow, so you won't need to add more protein to your diet anytime soon.
How Much Immediately After Workout?
You might think that taking 50 grams of protein right after your workout will give you a significant boost to your muscle repair, leading to better growth, right? Not so! Your body can only use so much protein, and the rest is wasted. The ideal amount of protein to take right after your workout is 25 grams, as that's as much as your body can use. Try to find supplements that deliver those 25 grams of protein per serving to ensure you're making the most your post-workout supplementation, but not wasting protein!