post-training protein

Is Protein Timing After Training Essential for Muscle Growth?

Many of us were taught that the post-workout timing of protein was essential! And we made sure that we had that protein powder shake immediately after we finished. However, studies have shown that we may not need to worry about it as much after all.

What is protein?

Amino acids are the building blocks of all proteins. There are 20 dietary amino acids:

  • 11 amino acids are non-essential, we make them in our body
  • 9 amino acids are essential, we must get them from our diet

Protein Turnover

Proteins in our body are in a continual state of turnover, with new proteins being created (synthesis) and others being broken down (degradation).

  • Eating and resistance training stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS).
  • When synthesis is greater than breakdown, muscle hypertrophy can occur.
  • This increase in synthesis lasts up to 48 hours but declines over time!

After eating, synthesis increases and then declines gradually before feeding once more.

Effect of Training on Muscle Protein Synthesis

After resistance training, synthesis increases further when combined with feeding, this spike declines over time, but it lasts up to 48 hours.

Is the protein timing after training essential for greater muscle protein synthesis?

No, it is not essential immediately. There are other factors to take into consideration:

  • Total protein intake across the day is most important
  • Energy intake must be high enough
  • The training program must be progressive
  • Protein quality and amount must be considered.

Anabolic Window for Protein Timing

There is a period or window of oppurtunity for protein consumption near or around training.

If calories, training, daily protein intake and quality are all in check, then you should aim to get a dose of 20 – 40g of protein within two hours, before or after training.

Think long term

It is repeated stimulation of protein synthesis by way of progressive resistance training and appropriate nutrition that leads to hypertrophy. There is little if any need to focus on getting protein in immediately (< 30 mins). While it is important post-exercise, waiting an hour or two is perfectly fine!

The most important thing is ensuring adequate total protein intake across the day and repeated stimulation of muscle protein synthesis from feeding.

Protein Timing Takeaways

When total daily protein needs are being met consistently, consuming protein close to training is beneficial. However, the window of opportunity is closer to 2 hours and not limited to after training!

  1. Aim for a minimum of 1.6  – 2.4 grams/kg protein
  2. Aim for 0.4 – 0.6 g/kg per meal, 4 to 5 times daily.
  3. Prioritize high-quality protein sources

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