Proper nutrition is paramount in muscle building. And these post-workout protein ideas can help increase your muscle mass exponentially.
Your workout is only half the battle when it comes to reaching your athletic goals. The other half is what you do on either side of your workout – specifically, your nutrition.
You can put 100% effort into intense and optimized workouts, but you’re never going to reach your goals if you don’t eat right.
Your body needs the right fuel – certain nutrients, vitamins, and minerals – to repair and rebuild the muscles you work in the gym.
The most important of these is protein – a key building block for muscle. Just about everyone can benefit from getting more protein in their diet, particularly those who are working to build their dream body.
Read on and we’ll share some tips to help you get the right level of protein your body needs to maximize the gains you make in the gym.
Benefits Of Protein After A Workout
Is protein really that important post-workout? Or is it simply bro-science?
The short answer is yes – protein is very important. It’s vital if you want to build muscle and recover quicker after a tough workout.
When you exercise, you create small tears in your muscles. The protein that makes up your muscle fibers breaks down, which is why your muscles can be sore for days after going to the gym.
The rate at which this breakdown of muscle protein happens depends on several factors, such as the type of workout, intensity, and experience. It’s at the highest levels after hypertrophy-focused resistance training, like most types of weightlifting.
You need to give your body enough additional protein to repair these broken muscle fibers. Think of protein as the cement you need to repair a brick wall.
Your body uses this nutrient to fix the damage, and rebuild your muscles to be stronger than they were before – which is, in essence, the process by which you grow bigger and stronger muscles through resistance training.
How Much Protein Should I Eat After a Workout?
So how much protein do you actually need, post-workout?
Studies indicate you should eat 0.3-0.5 grams of protein per KG of body weight, soon after your workout. This works out to something in the range of 20-40 grams of protein for most people.
Try to get this within 30 minutes of working out, but if you aren’t able to eat within this time, just get your protein as soon as possible.
This should be a part of the 0.8 grams per KG of body weight recommended for people to get each day, as a whole. Though if you live an active lifestyle, you should probably aim for a higher protein intake than this recommended amount.
Easy Post-Workout Protein Ideas
Getting protein is easier said than done – which you’ll realize once you start counting your macros.
It’s even more difficult to make sure you get your protein within half an hour of your workout, particularly since many peoples’ workouts don’t necessarily come right before meal times.
To help you out, we’ve put together seven simple, convenient, and versatile post-workout protein ideas.
Try one or more of these protein-rich meal and snack ideas to make sure you’re reaching optimum post-workout protein levels.
1. Clear Naked Whey Protein Shake
A protein shake is one of the easiest ways to get a lot of protein without a ton of prep (and chewing).
Protein shakes take minutes to prepare and consume and give you all the post-workout protein you need. For the best results, you can make your shake with a whey isolate protein powder like Clear Naked Whey. That way you get optimal protein intake, without too many unwanted extras, and keep carbs and calories low.
A whey isolate like this is also super convenient – all you need to do is add water. You can get your post-workout protein before you even leave the gym.
Eggs are extremely protein-dense, with each egg containing around 6-7 grams of protein. What’s more, this is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids.
This makes them perfect for a post-workout meal. They’re also convenient and versatile – just cook up a few eggs, whichever way you like them, and you’re almost at your post-workout protein goal already.
Bodybuilders swear by chicken, and for good reason. A regular-sized chicken breast has 54 grams of protein.
Other parts of the chicken are a little lower in protein, but still are richer in protein than most other foods.
Canned tuna is simple and convenient to eat on the go, making this a perfect post-workout snack, considering its nutritional value.
Along with being low in fat and calories, tuna is extremely high in protein, with around 29 grams of protein per 100 grams of tuna.
This is not to mention its myriad other beneficial nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids.
5. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter tastes great, it’s versatile – great in shakes, as toppings, or in sandwiches – and it’s very protein-dense.
You can get a little over 7 grams of protein from a 2-tablespoon serving of peanut butter.
Make a couple of PB&J sandwiches, or just add some peanut butter together with banana and milk in a shake to get much of your post-workout protein needs.
6. Nuts And Seeds
Many nuts and seeds are great sources of protein. Peanuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, lentils, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, and sunflower seeds are just a few.
You can make your own mix, or buy a simple mix from the grocery store to snack on after your workout and get a healthy amount of protein on the go.
7. Cottage Cheese
Finally, cottage cheese is an excellent and convenient protein source. A cup of cottage cheese has 28 grams of protein and is comparatively very low in calories.
You can eat it on your own, or pair it with other foods for a simple post-workout snack. Try it as a dip, with crackers or vegetable sticks, put it on a bagel, or put it in a salad.
All the above post-workout protein ideas will help you build a better body by giving your body the protein it needs to rebuild and repair itself effectively.
So make sure to pack a few high-protein snacks in your gym bag to get a protein boost immediately after you finish your workout.