Should You Eat Protein Before Or After Your Workout?

Whether you work out to build muscle or to improve your health, you probably know all about the benefits of protein. Protein is necessary to maintain muscle, which in turn makes your muscles not only stronger but bigger, according to Healthline. Even if you don't want big muscles, you need protein to avoid muscle loss — especially if you work out (via Livestrong).

You may have heard that it is best to consume protein, either in the form of a shake or in a meal, before you workout. The idea is that having protein before a workout improves performance (via National Library of Medicine). Other schools of thought suggest that you should wait until after you work out to eat protein because your muscles need it to recover, per Self. Both of these ideas seem to be valid as far as giving your body the nutrients you need. So, which is better — protein before or after a workout?

Protein helps you refuel, no matter the time

Simply put, you need protein throughout the day. Registered dietician Amy Kubal told Eat This, Not That the best time to consume protein is before and after a workout. She suggested that people eat a small snack that contains protein, carbs, and fat about an hour before a workout and then drink or eat a snack that contains protein and carbs after a workout. While it was once believed that eating protein about 30 minutes after a workout was best for the body, research published in the journal PeerJ indicates that this isn't true. In addition, how much protein you have on a daily basis might be more important than when you have it. A 2020 study published in Clinical Nutrition showed that timing has no effect on lean muscle mass, strength, or function.

How much protein you need depends on a number of factors, including your age, physical fitness level, and goals. A general formula for determining how much protein you need is .36 grams per pound of your body weight, per Healthline.