Post-Workout Protein


When planning out your protein intake, there are 3 questions to answer: what, when, and how much. The when is easy: take it immediately after your workout. Your muscle proteins begin to break down during your workout, so you need to have plenty of material in order to start the rebuilding process.

What to eat is the most complicated question. There are several types of protein isolates that have different properties.

  • Whey is rapidly absorbed and contains leucine for recovery. It has generally been shown to have the biggest improvements. Examples include protein powders and bars, milk, yogurt, and other dairy products.
  • Casein is absorbed slowly if it is alone, but it steadily releases amino acids which are good for exercises that boost your metabolism over a longer period, such as HIIT, and muscle repair throughout the day. Casein can also be found in dairy products.
Soy is an acceptable vegan substitute and has the added benefit of extra antioxidants. It is found in soy products such as tofu, tempeh, meat alternatives, or any other soy-based products. You may need to find additional sources of essential amino acids.

How much protein should I be consuming? 

As for how much protein to have, the general recommendation is 20g of high-quality protein after a workout for a 180 lb person. If you want to be more specific, you can multiply your weight by 0.11 g.

Weight (in lbs)

Protein intake (in g)






















Leucine is the most important component for recovery because it stops muscle breakdown by signaling it to start building new muscle. High-quality dairy-based proteins, such as milk or yogurt, have the most evidence behind them to support muscle retention and recovery.

It is also important to consume protein every 3-4 hours throughout the day in order to maintain stores. Research suggests eating protein prior to going to sleep to promote muscle re-building overnight. The best way to promote recovery after exercise is to take your body weight’s recommended protein serving that has plenty of whey and leucine.

 Anna J Applegate, LAT, ATC

Anna is a licensed Athletic Trainer in MA. She’s worked with adolescents, veterans, and D1 & high-level athletes in both Sports Medicine and Sports Performance. She’s focused on a holistic approach to injury prevention and performance enhancement. In addition to writing for Bear Grips, Anna is working to create resources that make technology and analytics accessible for coaches and clinicians.

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  2. Brown EC, DiSilvestro RA, Babaknia A, Devor ST. Soy versus whey protein bars: Effects on exercise training impact on lean body mass and antioxidant status. Nutrition Journal. 2004;3(22). Accessed February 14, 2019.
  3. Hoffman JR, Flavo MJ. Protein – Which is Best? Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. 3(3):118-130.
  4. Phillips SM. Protein Consumption and Resistance Exercise: Maximizing Anabolic Potential. Sports Science Exchang. 2013;26(107):1-5.

5. Phillips SM. Protein and Exercise in Weight Loss: Considerations for Athletes. Sport Science Exchange. 2016;28(159):1-5.

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