One of the most common debates in the fitness world is when and how to time your protein drink. While timing is important, another consideration we should be discussing is how many grams of protein after a workout to consume for ideal results.
How many grams of protein after a workout you personally need is impacted by a wide variety of factors, but it is something that all athletes should determine and adjust accordingly.
The idea that how many grams of protein after a workout can impact your athletic performance has sometimes been referred to as biohacking.
Biohacking is when you use self-experimentation or science to change your body chemistry and physiology in an attempt to enhance your body performance.
This is a somewhat generalized definition of biohacking, but in terms of athletics, it is easiest to see this isolation of biohacking not only in when to consume protein but also how many grams of protein after a workout.
In this article, we will explore this idea of biohacking and how you can start to find the perfect combination of timing and grams to make your protein work towards your fitness goals with you.
First, let’s focus on the timing.
Should I drink protein before or after a workout?
The first place you need to look when honing in your optimal protein consumption is when you are drinking your protein shakes. There are pros and cons to drinking protein before or after your workout, but most athletes tend to lean towards protein after their workout. Let’s dive into why that is.
Protein before a workout
Having a protein shake before a workout still has some benefits. After all, you need to have ample energy before your workout to get through all your reps (or to put in the miles). For that to work, your body not only needs protein but also some carbohydrates.
Most protein shakes have some carbs and sugars to help fulfill that need for energy before a workout.
The major downfall of drinking protein before a workout is that depending on the type of protein shake or meal you consume, you may not digest it before you start exercising.
Usually you should have your protein shake at least 1-2 hours before you start to avoid stomach upset while working out.
That will give your body enough time to start processing and digesting so your body can start converting the protein and carbohydrates into energy.
Most athletes are not drinking protein in order to boost their energy levels though. Protein is most often associated with muscle recovery, building, or repair - which is why protein is usually used after a workout.
Protein after a workout
After a workout, your body needs to repair, and if you don’t give your body the building blocks it needs to make repairs and recover, your body will pull from other stores in your body.
Timing how soon to consume your protein after a workout is somewhat variable on your goals and the type of activity you did. For instance, protein after an endurance workout or super intense workout should be consumed within 30-60 minutes.
This short time frame is thought to promote muscle recovery best, but only when it is also paired with carbohydrates.
This is just one example of timing, and there are several variables, including how many grams of protein after a workout you need for optimum results. So, how much protein after a workout is best?
Factors to determine how many grams of protein after a workout
While deciding whether to drink protein before or after a workout is an important decision, what is arguably the most important may be how many grams of protein after your workout you need.
Before we jump into the three main factors that athletes should consider, keep in mind that how many grams of protein after a workout you consume is important, in part, because it is possible to consume too much protein.
If you are adding too much protein to your post-workout routine, you can actually inhibit your muscle growth and recovery. It could also hurt your goals if you’re trying to lose weight, as you may gain weight depending on how many grams of protein after a workout you consume.
One of the most important aspects of a protein supplement is the amino acid combination it contains. Your body uses amino acids to repair and restore connective tissues because they are the building blocks of protein molecules.
That said, your body cannot store amino acids. Your body can only use amino acids to synthesize enzymes, structural proteins, special molecules, and produce energy. So, when your body is provided with an excess of amino acids, your body starts applying them exclusively to avoid wasting them.
So, deciding how many grams to protein after a workout you should have becomes more essential because (whether you have too little or too much) you may struggle to make gains or reach your weight goals.
So how do you know how much to take? Here are some of the factors you should consider.
One major factor in determining how many grams of protein after a workout you need has to do with your biological sex or gender. This is largely due to the fact that men and women have biological differences in how we apply and metabolize protein.
For instance, women often need more protein than they think, and the amount of protein women should consume also increases if they are pregnant or breastfeeding. Still, we often see men gravitating towards high protein diets more than women when women still need plenty of protein.
No matter your gender, protein plays an important role in weight management and fitness goals.
According to the Institute of Medicine, men need about 56 grams of protein per day while women need about 46 grams of protein per day. These numbers are averages, and will change according to energy output among other things.
Knowing your personal fitness goals
On top of biological gender differences in how many grams of protein after a workout you need, you also should take your personal goals into consideration.
Are you trying to lose weight and gain muscle?
Are you trying to gain muscle only?
Are you simply trying to maintain the weight you are at now?
Determining your intention behind your fitness routine will help you figure out how many grams of protein after a workout you need to reach those goals.
As an example, some endurance athletes may want to consume a protein drink that is higher in carbohydrates than protein so they have protein after a workout with 30 grams of carbohydrates but only 10-15 grams of protein.
On the other hand, a body builder is trying to build muscle and will benefit from consuming more protein after a workout. With that in mind, they may choose to have a protein shake with 20-25 grams of protein after their workout.
Most athletes do not need to exceed 25 grams of protein after a workout, and in fact, your body can only process up to 30 grams of protein at a time.
Protein absorption rate
The third influential factor when determining how many grams of protein after a workout you need is the protein absorption rate.
The protein absorption rate impacts how many grams of protein after a workout because if your body is not able to process all of the protein you consume, then you’re likely getting less protein than you think.
Protein absorption rate is most often determined by the size and weight of the protein molecules in your protein drink. If these molecules are larger than the size of your stomach pores, you will not be able to digest the full amount of protein you’ve consumed.
Beyond the molecule size and weight (also known as daltons), enzymes play an important role in protein absorption in your body. Enzymes in your body are chemical catalysts that help speed up chemical reactions like digestion and protein synthesis.
Your body already uses enzymes to aid in your digestion, but if the protein you consume also contains some digestive enzymes, the protein absorption will become that much easier for your body.
One example of this is our Frog Fuel liquid protein. We have a decreased dalton size and pre-digested fruit enzymes to ensure optimal absorption. In fact, it only takes 15 minutes to digest Frog Fuel liquid protein completely.
How to calculate how many grams of protein after a workout you need
All of that information may be enlightening, but you still may be wondering how many grams of protein after a workout you actually need.
To calculate your individual protein requirements, you can use a simple mathematical formula.
First, determine your body weight in kilograms (kg). To do this if you don’t already know your weight in kilograms, take your weight in pounds and divide it by 2.2.
Once you’ve calculated your weight in kilograms, you need to determine the grams of protein necessary for your body weight and goals per kilogram of your body weight. This number will vary mostly off of activity level. Here are some averages:
- Healthy with low activity level: 0.8g per kilogram of body weight
- Healthy with moderate activity level: 1.2g per kilogram of body weight
- Healthy with consistent, intense, or endurance activity: 2.0g per kilogram of body weight
These numbers are not necessarily exact for every person, but it gives you an average range of grams per kilogram of body weight to start. It is advised that you consult a nutritionist to help you determine the exact number based on your fitness level and goals.
Once you’ve determined your grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, you can use the formula below:
Weight in kilograms x grams of protein per kilogram = grams of protein per day
Now, this number should be seen as a starting point, not necessarily a rule for the exact amount of protein you need. As we’ve mentioned, this takes some trial and error to get it right. As your body changes and your fitness goals evolve, you will need to adjust these numbers.
Invest in quality protein for quality results
It is no question that every person reading this has different protein needs. That’s because each of your fitness goals and personal health journeys are unique. To know how many grams of protein after a workout you need, start with determining those goals and personal intricacies of your life.
Then, you can start to consider other factors like absorption rate, and invest in a protein that will help you reach your goals.
Frog Fuel liquid protein supplements are a specialized protein made by athletes for athletes. We designed this protein to help you biohack your way to optimal body performance. From pre-workout, mid-workout, and post-workout, we have a protein that helps you fuel your body every step of the way.