When and How Much Protein to Eat for Optimal Muscle Growth and Recovery

Alright, people, let’s talk PROTEIN. Why do we need it? And most importantly, WHEN should we be eating it? If you have not been paying attention to when and how much protein you consume, now is the time!

WHY WE NEED PROTEIN

We need protein to help our muscles recover after exercise. Protein is the molecule of recovery; our bodies require it to build literally every single aspect our bodies. In fact, our DNA ultimately codes for proteins (all with varying purposes and forms, obviously)!

When we exercise, our muscles undergo micro-tearing. This is a good thing! These microtears send out a signal for repair, and our bodies send proteins to recover and grow the muscle. You may also remember that muscles store energy for us, and after a tough workout, a combination of carbohydrates and protein (2:1 ratio, respectively) is a great way to replenish energy stores.

PROTEIN TIMING

Timing is everything. For recovery and muscle growth, consuming a minimum of 10 grams of a complete protein within 2 hours of resistance exercise is ideal.

Hereare some important things to consider:

  • Your overall protein intake is more important than your pre- or post- workout nutrition. Our bodies are only capable of absorbing about 15-25 grams of protein at one time. That means that eating your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein in one sitting is not sufficient.
  • Not only should you be consuming protein post-workout, but it should be a regular part of your meals and snacks throughout the day so that you can get the best recovery and adaptations possible.

HOW MUCH PROTEIN DO I NEED

Wondering how much protein you should be getting? Never fear! Check out this handy formula. All you have to do is divide your body weight in pounds by 2.2 (there are 2.2 pounds in one kilogram), and then multiply it by the number/range below that applies to your activity level.

  • Sedentary: 0.8  g/kg
  • Recreationally Active: 1.1 – 1.6  g/kg
  • Athlete: 1.7 – 2.0  g/kg

FOR EXAMPLE: For someone who weighs 135 pounds and exercises 3-4X per week, we would use the “Recreationally-Active Adult” scenario with a g/kg value of 1.5:

135/2.2 = 61.3 kg X 1.5 g/kg = 91.95 g of protein per day

As always, you know your body best. If a little more or less protein makes you feel better, or you have a health condition that requires a specific amount of protein, go with that. Just remember to allocate your consumption throughout the day to get the most benefit from your protein.

Happy recovery (and gains)!

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