before or after a workout

Should you eat protein before or after a workout? Fueling Fitness

Whether you’re ready to work out or have just finished an intense workout, what you eat matters. If you eat the appropriate meals at the proper times, you can provide your body with enough high-quality fuel for your workout or aid in recovering the energy you used while building muscle.

However, many people are unaware of the significance of this dietary detail for fitness advantages. Alternatively, they falsely believe a healthy diet is responsible for many exercise gains.

People who engage in intermittent fasting-

  • Occasionally, they work out on an empty stomach because they think it increases their body fat burning.
  • Skip meals because they don’t want to eat the calories they just expended.

Both of these are terrible concepts.

should you eat protein before or after a workout
Should you eat protein before or after a workout?

The truth is that eating foods high in protein and carbs before and after a workout can positively or negatively impact your health and performance, depending on when you do it.

Protein’s Function in Muscle Repair

Your muscles sustain microscopic injury during exercise, called microtears, particularly during strength training. For this reason, eating protein after working out is critical to rebuilding and repairing damaged muscle fibers. Protein provides the building blocks (amino acids) that comprise your muscles. With time, eating enough protein causes your muscles to grow larger, a process called muscular hypertrophy that gives you more robust, more resilient muscles.

The “anabolic window,” or the ideal window of time after a workout, is generally accepted to be between 30 and 60 minutes after a workout. According to the notion, muscles are more likely to absorb and use protein right after exercise than later in the day because they are more sensitive to it. The window, though, might be broader than that.

Protein's Function in Muscle Repair
Protein’s Function in Muscle Repair

According to Brad Schoenfeld, an exercise science professor at Lehman College in New York who has researched the timing of protein intake in athletes, prioritizing protein consumption during the anabolic window might not be as essential.

The Dilemma of Timing: Should You Eat Protein Before or After a Workout?

To maximize the effects of your exercise sessions and to fuel your efforts, it’s crucial to ingest a combination of nutritious carbohydrates and protein. However, the proportions of each fluctuate based on the time of day, and these macronutrients have distinct functions both before and after exercise.

It’s easy: Fill your tank with clean fuel only. The quality of the fuel is vital for the duration of the workout.

Protein Before a Workout

Eating high-quality carbohydrates before working out gives your body the energy to do strength- or aerobic training exercises. Leslie Bonci, a registered dietitian and owner of Active Eating Advice in Pittsburgh, explains that your body can better manage blood glucose levels during an activity session if you consume healthy carbohydrates like a piece of fruit or a slice of whole-wheat toast with jam. They replace the glucose stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen stores, keeping your body from using muscle as fuel during exercise.

What to eat before workout
What To Eat Before A Workout

According to Bonci, fueling up with a mix of carbohydrates and protein before engaging in strength exercises is a good idea. While the protein will help you increase muscle mass and strength and heal the microtears that naturally occur in muscle fibers when you lift weights, the carbohydrates will provide the energy you need to complete the activity. (You might have the correct stuff on some bread with nut butter or Greek yogurt with berries.)

“It doesn’t matter what time of day you do it. Before working out, you should always take at least a small snack, advises Tara Collingwood, an Orlando-based sports dietitian and certified personal trainer.

According to Collingwood, eating a snack between 15 minutes and 2 hours before working out is advisable, but the closer the session is, the less food you should eat.

Collingwood suggests that “a snack in the 100–200 calorie range should be consumed 30–60 minutes before working out.”

If you can eat two hours before your workout, a balanced lunch with protein, easy-to-digest carbohydrates, and a small amount of healthy fat can supply you with the necessary fuel.

Protein After a Workout

After exercise, refueling your body with carbohydrates and glycogen is crucial to replace lost nutrients. Consuming high-quality protein is also critical for the regeneration and repair of muscle tissue and for stimulating muscle protein synthesis, which is necessary for muscle recovery and exercise adaptation.

Collingwood says that besides ensuring that your post-workout meal includes enough protein and carbohydrates, it should also contain foods high in antioxidants to shield your cells from harm.

After a Workout
After a Workout

According to Bonci, skipping meals entirely after working out is a mistake, but you don’t have to eat a lot. “You should consider replenishing throughout the cooling-down process, which is the rationale behind the post-exercise snack. After working out, even a few pieces of a snack or sips of a smoothie will help you start to feel better.

However, avoiding a post-workout snack can make you feel more exhausted and impede your body’s ability to heal and recuperate. According to Bonci, it may also make you perform worse the next time you work out.

If you exercise for a long time and vigorously, rehydrate by drinking water or electrolyte-rich drinks to restore the fluids you lost through perspiration and hard breathing. This will assist your muscle performance and recuperation, keep your body properly hydrated, and help restore the balance of essential minerals.

What Is My Need for Protein?

The recommended daily dose of protein to satisfy your basic nutritional needs is 0.36 grams per pound. But those who engage in physical activity require more than that.

According to Schoenfeld’s research, physically active individuals should take between 0.4 and 0.55 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass four times daily for maximum muscle building. Regardless of gender, that equates to consuming 33 to 45 grams of protein four times daily for an adult weighing 180 pounds.

After working out, Bonci often advises eating 10 to 20 grams of protein. The carb-to-protein ratio should be modified based on the kind of workout you completed.

Following up a strength-training exercise with 20–40 grams of carbohydrates and 10–20 grams of protein, or a 2:1 ratio is recommended. According to Bonci, if you engage in an endurance (aerobic) workout, the ideal ratio changes to 3:1, with 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates and 10 to 20 grams of protein.

Although sufficient protein is undisputable for muscle repair following physical activity, Stacy Cleveland, a registered dietitian at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, says there is no need to overindulge in protein. Your muscles can only take 15 to 30 grams of protein once.

Cleveland states, “Research indicates there is no advantage to consuming more than 30 grams of protein in one sitting.”

As part of the body’s overall protein turnover mechanism, surplus protein that is not immediately absorbed and used by the muscles will be stored as fat or energy later on.


It’s crucial to consider the bigger picture and distribute your protein consumption throughout the day rather than concentrating on your post-workout intake.

Over the last ten years, research has shown that eating several high-protein meals throughout the day is probably preferable to having a large amount of protein in one sitting immediately following an exercise session.

You will consume all the required protein throughout your workouts, provided you eat enough protein at each regular meal.


Is it better to consume a protein shake before or following exercise?

A protein shake works best when your muscles are rebuilding after an exercise. However, it’s equally crucial to consider your daily protein intake.

Should I drink protein before or after my workout for muscle gain?

Protein shakes are best consumed after a workout. They provide your muscles with the protein they need to grow.

Should I consume a protein shake before or after exercising for weight growth?

If you aim to gain weight, you can have your protein shake whenever you want as long as you consume more calories than you burn off during the day. However, consuming it post-workout also aids in maintaining and repairing muscle mass.

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