All you athletes probably already know how important protein is in helping you recover post-workout, and maintain your muscles and healthy bones [1]. There’s a lot of focus on how much protein athletes should eat, but what is the best time to eat protein to optimize your recovery?

First, there are several different types of protein – some from animal and dairy sources, others from plants – and you may want to have a particular type of protein around your workout, because some contain all the essential amino acids and some don’t. We’ll give you some top tips in this area. But the big question is whether you should eat protein before or after a workout. Let’s look into it:

When is the best time to consume protein?

There’s confusion around whether to eat protein before or after your workout. But let’s be honest, when you eat protein will partly depend on your goals [2]. Most types of proteins should accompany your main meals to help you get a balanced diet with all the macronutrients. Until now, not such a big news. But it’s not the full story.

It’s best to spread your protein throughout the day. That means about 4-5 portions a day, aiming for 20g of protein every 3-4 hours. By doing this, you’ll eat protein before and after exercise without too much extra effort.

When it comes to fuelling up pre-workout, there are no hard and fast rules, other than making sure you’re not hungry and not so full you feel uncomfortable. We suggest you wait at least an hour after your last meal before you start your training session.

Post workout, research shows that it’s important to consume protein in the next 24hrs following your session for muscle recovery. Why is this? Because, simply put, it will help supply your body with the building blocks for your muscles’ recovery and growth [3]. On top of consuming protein post-workout, don’t forget to start by rehydrating yourself and eat some carbs too.

How much protein you should eat depends on your bodyweight, training style and frequency. The recommendation is not the same whether you are an elite athlete performing multiple sessions per day or you are used to hit the streets for a marathon. The general population is advised to eat around 0.8g of protein per kg of bodyweight. On the other hand, for endurance athletes who are used to practice intense training 4-5 days per week for at least 1h, that’s a bit higher: closer to 1.2g. And this intake of protein is even higher for top-level athletes: 1.6g [4]. If you are used to practicing high-intensity or endurance sports on a daily basis for an extended period of time, you might be one of those.

What better time to take whey protein?

Now that we’ve discussed overall protein intake, what about whey protein? Let’s break down the essentials you should know.

First, whey protein is a little different to the other proteins you eat during the day, and it can be an important tool for athletes to know about. It’s a protein derived from milk – whey makes up about 20% of the protein found in cow’s milk, with casein being the other 80%. Some proteins are called “complete” because they contain all 9 essential amino acids. That’s the case of the whey, as casein and most animal protein. That’s why it's effective in helping to maintain muscle [5].

We all have our own specificities, and so does the whey protein. What’s special about it is that it contains an important quantity of leucine and it’s a ‘fast protein’. Fast because it moves quickly in the digestive tract and is rapidly hydrolysed, leading to a large peak of amino acids in the blood after it has been drunk. So, when taking whey protein, aim for 2 to 8 hours after your workout to aid short-to-medium recovery. Casein, on the other hand, is a “slow protein”, so it works great in combination with whey. And guess what? YoPRO has your back with a range of dairy based products  that include whey protein and are great post-gym! For your next session, you can think about bringing in your sport’s bag one of the YoPRO Perform yoghurt . Grab it, taste it and enjoy!

Whether you prefer to eat protein before or after exercise, we think it’s smart to be mindful of what type of protein you eat to optimise your recovery time. Feeling inspired? Check out these healthy post-workout food ideas to put what you’ve learned into action.

Written by: Green Park Content
Any medical advice and views expressed are those of the author; readers should obtain medical advice.


[1] Proteins contribute to the maintenance of muscle mass and normal bones.
[2] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/332243746_International_Association_of_Athlet cs_Federations_Consensus_Statement_2019_Nutrition_for_Athletics

[3] Proteins contribute to a growth in muscle mass.

[4] International Association of Athletics Federations Consensus Statement 2019

[5] Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sport Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance, 2016


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