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Protein After Resistance Exercise continued...

Taking the large dose right after the workout worked better. The amino acid concentrations in the blood were higher after one big dose.

West speculates as to why. "Whey is high in leucine and the fact that it is rapidly digested means there is a rapid appearance of essential amino acids, including leucine," he says. Those amino acids, he says, act as a signal to elevate muscle protein synthesis -- crucial for ongoing growth, repair, and maintenance of muscles.

Protein After Aerobic Exercise

In the second study, Pasiakos and his team also looked at seven men and one woman. All were active duty military. The average age was 24.

On two occasions, they rode an exercise bike for an hour at moderate intensity.

During both workouts, they drank a high-protein beverage with 10 grams of protein. The concentration of the amino acid leucine in the drink was different for the two sessions. "One drink had about 19% leucine, the other 35%."

The muscle response to the higher concentration was 33% better, he says.

Protein After Exercise: Advice for Exercisers

The findings should be repeated in other research, says Felicia Stoler, RD, a nutritionist and exercise physiologist. She reviewed the study findings for WebMD but was not involved in either study.

The findings, she says, are not a reason to overdo protein after exercise. "Some protein for repair is good but not excess. I always have to caution about protein. People think they need way more than they do."

According to a position paper issued in 2009 by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Dietetic Association, daily protein for endurance and strength-trained athletes ranges from 0.5 to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight. A 120-pound person would need about 60 grams or more. A 150-pound person would need 75 grams or more.

A serving of whey protein powder has about 23 grams of protein.

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