Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

What are the benefits of protein supplements with regard to exercise?

Exercise Physiologist, WebMD Medical Expert
Author, MedicineNet

Protein is the building block of muscles, and it is essential for the repair and growth of muscle after exercise. 

Whenever you exercise, and particularly during resistance exercise, you cause microscopic damage to the myofibrils of muscle fiber (myofibrils are small protein filaments in the muscle fiber that help the muscle contract). The body responds to this normal biological damage, called catabolism, by sending nutrients, including protein and other growth factors like testosterone, to the muscle to help it grow. Contrary to what many people think, protein is not used by the muscles for fuel unless the circumstances are extreme (for example, starvation). Instead, fat and carbohydrates are the main fuels.

Research shows that protein consumed before exercise and within 30 minutes of finishing your workout will help with growth and recovery. The guideline for protein consumption after exercise is 1 gram for every 3-4 grams of carbohydrate. Peanut butter has 9 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons. Yogurt is another good source of protein. The guidelines for quantity of protein before exercise are not as clear as after, but you can experiment and see if you notice any difference.

You probably won't notice much difference using protein supplements unless you are malnourished or an elite athlete doing tremendous amounts of aerobic or resistance exercise. That's because most Americans, including athletes, get enough protein in their diets. Excess protein is not used by the body; instead, it is excreted in urine. Discuss your recommended protein intake with a doctor or registered dietitian.

Here's one way to calculate your protein needs:

  1. Divide your weight by 2.2 to calculate your weight in kilograms.
  2. Multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.8-1.7 gm/kg (depending on factors mentioned above).

Here's an example if you weigh 200 pounds and consistently do heavy resistance exercise:

200/2.2 = 91 kg

91 kg x 1.4 = 127 grams of protein per day

Again, keep in mind that most Americans get enough protein in their diets.

Ask the

Confused about vitamins? Find out what's effective, and what's safe.
Pfizer Centrum Ask the Nutritionist Promo Watch bu