You just crushed a workout and you’re craving a big workout shake or meal. You figure that the more protein the better, right?

Maybe, maybe not. 

It really all depends on you and how your body reacts. While you definitely want a significant amount of protein in any meal, sometimes your body can only handle so much at a time. Having more might be a waste, as excess protein goes to other parts of your body or is just plain flushed out of your system, underutilized. Eating too much protein also might result in not leaving enough room in your meal for the other fuels that your body needs in order to stay healthy. The main goal is to ensure that you also remember whole grains, vegetables, fruits and healthy fats in addition to protein. The body needs the nutrients from all of these to maintain balance and health.

Some people are comfortable spacing out their meals into anywhere from 4-7 meals a day to hit their daily protein consumption goals. Others prefer 2-3 bigger meals with higher amounts of protein at a time. The best advice we can offer is to try both and see how your body reacts to different schedules. Of course, it may only be possible to eat one way due to your lifestyle, but whatever your limitations, ensure that you are getting enough protein and calories when you tally up your numbers at the end of the day.

At minimum, whether it is a post-workout shake or meal, you should aim for anywhere from 25 to 40 grams of protein depending on your height and body composition. If you are getting less, then your muscles might not repair adequately and you can experience soreness from the muscle microtears that you inflicted on your body during your workout. Your body wants to build itself back up and then some after a workout, so making sure that it has the proper materials to work with to increase your muscle size is key.

If you are consuming whey protein in a post-workout shake, the guesswork is taken away as one scoop of protein powder typically yields between 25 – 30 grams of protein. If you’re having a meal or want solid food after crushing a sweat session, ensure that you have a portion of fish, poultry or red meat that is the size of your palm.

Other similar portions to look out for that will give you the protein that you need are:

  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt with almonds or nuts
  • 3 eggs plus three egg whites
  • 2 ½ cups of lentils
  • ½ cup of kidney beans
  • 1 ½ cups of chickpeas
  • 75 g of hemp seeds
  • 1 cup of cottage cheese

Make sure that you’re getting enough protein throughout your day, and dividing consumption into 30 or gram meals is your best way to utilize the nutrient.