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May 27th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

How much protein should I take post-workout?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Friday, it's Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist.

Asked by Jason from Afghanistan

I am currently deployed to Afghanistan. I am rigorously training in the gym at night. Pre-workout, I am taking NaNO Vapor and then as a post-workout boost I'm taking the Muscle Tech's Nitro-Tech. How much protein should I be taking for my post-workout? That's all ma'am.

Expert answer

Hi Jason,

First and foremost, thank you for your service to our country. To answer your question completely accurately, I would need more information about you: height, weight, training goals.

I'm going to assume that you are trying to gain muscle mass and that you don't need to lose fat, and I'll give you some simple calculations to determine how much protein you need all day, not just after workouts.

To help answer your question, I consulted Chad Landers, a certified strength and conditioning coach who also has a diploma in sports nutrition from the International Olympic Committee.

He suggested that an optimal range of protein intake for an athlete trying to gain muscle is .72-.81 grams per pound per day. If your goal is to maintain muscle, the range is .54-.64 grams per pound per day. So to calculate your requirements, simply multiply your weight times one of the figures above.

He also recommended that you consume 20-30 grams of protein after your workout. The supplement that you are taking post-workout contains 25 grams of protein so that is probably plenty.

Whey protein is a faster acting protein so it is more effective before and after workouts, but it is important to eat protein from a variety of sources if possible (chicken, fish, lean meat, low fat dairy, beans/legumes, nuts) for optimal performance and health.

The supplement you are taking also contains creatine, which can help increase muscle mass, and is safe as long as you don't have any kidney problems. In addition, it is important to consume adequate amounts of carbohydrate, both before and after workouts, as this is the fuel that your muscles actually run on. If you don't eat enough carbs, your body will have to use some of the protein that you eat as fuel, a much less efficient process that can impair your muscle gains.

The supplement that you take before your workout contains caffeine, a proven performance enhancer. However, none of the other components have been proven to be effective, especially at unknown doses, so you may do just as well eating a piece of fruit and a yogurt and having a cup of coffee before your workout.

The supplement industry is largely unregulated, and supplements often contain "proprietary formulas" that make it difficult to assess the potential effectiveness. The performance enhancers with the most evidence, according to sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, are caffeine and creatine (to build muscle).

She also notes that beta-alanine is also "getting some good attention for sprint-type sports." I hope this helps, and I hope you stay safe over there.

Follow Dr. Jampolis on Twitter


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    Ingesting protein alone won’t build muscle. Your muscles need to be worked first at which point protein is effective in feeding muscles during your workout and will aid in the rebuilding process afterward. Ingesting more protein than your body needs will not provide any benefit, and can, in fact, put a great deal of stress on your liver and kidneys.^'-.

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  3. Mike O'Donnell

    I'm 5.9", 162 pounds, want to gain muscle mass.
    So based on what you say, it works like this:
    162×72 grams= 11664 grams...i.e: 25.72 POUNDS of protein per day?!!!
    Is that what you are saying?
    I find this completely unreasonable.
    So please clear this point for me if i am wrong!!
    Thanks,
    Mike

    November 28, 2013 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike O'Donnell

      I just noticed the point before the figures you mentioned. My mistake.
      So based on that i need around 117 grams of protein per day.
      Now my question is that the protein that i am supposed to consume from food and doesn't include the supplement i take?
      And that supplement is addition to that?

      November 28, 2013 at 15:14 | Report abuse |
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    Hi Jason, I am a co-founder at http://www.physiqueboss.com

    We specialise in Training and nutritional advice and are all experts in our relevant fields.

    We recently posted an article on how much protein should I consume, you can read it here: http://www.physiqueboss.com/training/much-protein-should-you-consume/

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.