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Post Workout Protein Debate

How much protein is in your post workout shake?

New Research Regarding Post Workout Protein Dosages

A common question I often hear from athletes is, “How much protein do I need to take after a workout…. I see some supplements contain 25g/serving while others boast about containing 40-50g/serving….” New research published earlier this year by Moore et al. sheds light on this popular topic1. His research team looked at how the ingestion of various amounts of egg protein impacted muscle protein synthesis when consumed following a resistance training session. Participants in the study included 6 healthy males (average weight ~190 lbs), with an average age of 22 years. Each male had been resistance training > 4 months prior to the start of the study. On 5 separate occasions, each study subject ingested various amounts of a whole egg protein supplement (0, 5, 10, 20 or 40 grams of protein/serving) following a predetermined resistance training exercise session. Both muscle protein synthesis and whole body leucine oxidation were measured for 4 hours following the sessions. Upon analysis of the data obtained, it was shown that muscle protein synthesis increased in a dose-response manner up to 20 grams of protein.

In other words, with greater amounts of protein (up to 20 grams), greater levels of protein synthesis occurred. However, there was no increase in protein synthesis between 20g vs 40g. Going from 20g to 40g also corresponded with a significant increase in whole body leucine oxidation. This signifies that when consumed following resistance training, dietary amounts of egg protein beyond 20 grams will not enhance protein synthesis. The excess protein is metabolized by the liver (measured via whole body leucine oxidation) and used for other purposes within the body.

Study Limitations

This study provides preliminary evidence to indicating that 20g of egg protein maximizes protein synthesis following a resistance training session. Beyond this amount, protein is broken down and used for other purposes in the body (ie-energy). A limitation of this study is that only males were used. I hypothesize that women would respond slightly different in response to the same amount of post workout dietary protein due to hormonal differences. Additionally, its possible that using a different protein source, such as a whey protein, may have a different effect on protein synthesis. However, I wouldn’t expect to the dose-response relationship to be exceptionally different than that seen in this study.

Final Words

As a final thought, remember that protein is just one piece of the post-workout recovery puzzle. Post workout carbohydrate consumption is also critical during this time frame and will be covered in a later article.


1 Moore DR, Robinson MJ, Fry JL, Tang JE, Glover EI, Wilkinson SB, Prior T, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM. Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009.

2 Photo by Sandstein. Accessed June 13, 2010 from: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Protein_shake.jpg

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Written on October 02, 2009 by Sean Casey
Last Updated: June 19, 2010

This information is not intended to take the place of medical advice.Please check with your health care providers prior to starting any new dietary or exercise program. CasePerformance is not responsible for the outcome of any decision made based off the information presented in this article.

About the Author: Sean Casey is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in both Nutritional Science-Dietetics and Kinesiology-Exercise Physiology. Sean graduated academically as one of the top students in both the Nutritional Science and Kinesiology departments.
Field Experience: During college, Sean was active with the UW-Badgers Strength and Conditioning Department. He has also spent time as an intern physical preparation coach at the International Performance Institute in Bradenton, FL. He also spent time as an intern and later worked at Athletes Performance in Tempe, AZ. While at these locations he had the opportunity to train football, soccer, baseball, golf and tennis athletes. Sean is also active in the field of sports nutrition where he has consulted with a wide variety of organizations including both elite (NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars) and amateur athletic teams. His nutrition consultation services are avalable by clicking on the Nutrition Consultation tab.