Should I Take Protein Before or After Exercise?

Should I Take Protein Before or After Exercise?


What are proteins for?

Protein is necessary for muscle mass building and maintenance. Protein support muscle recovery after exercise. Amino acids, the building blocks for protein, are important for the building/maintenance of muscles, body cells, but also for enzymes, hormones and antibodies. Very important.

Protein before or after exercise?

In order to stimulate muscle protein synthesis (in short: process in which dietary protein is converted to muscle tissue) as efficiently as possible, a high amino acid concentration (building blocks of protein) and considerable physical efforts (intensive training) are required. Ideally, the total protein intake in a day should be evenly divided over several servings, each with about 20-50g protein (when choosing plant-based go for 30-50g). (1,2,3) In addition, it is important to plan such a portion around physical training to prevent/minimize muscle breakdown. (3) Whether you choose to take protein just before, during, or just after your workout doesn't make much difference for muscle recovery, but it does matter for sports performance. If you take around 40g of protein just before/during an intensive workout, it can affect the stomach/intestines. Complaints such as stomach ache/cramps, vomiting and diarrhea can follow and can have a significant impact on the quality of your training. A good guideline to prevent this is to start with protein immediately after training. Within two hours of exercise is optimal for recovery (4). Do you have a low-moderate intensity training? Then protein can usually be well tolerated before/during a workout.


Protein before sleep

Intake of a serving of +/- 40 gram of protein, possibly in combination with some carbohydrates, can increase muscle protein synthesis during the night and prevent muscle breakdown. (3)


  1. Rodriguez, N.R. et al. American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. Nutrition and Ahtletic Performance. Medine & Science in Sports & Exercise 41, 709-731, 2009.
  2. Moore, D.R. et al. Ingested proteïn dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men. Am. J. Of Clin. Nutr. 89, 161-168, 2009
  3. Morton, W.R. et al. Nutrition interventions to augment resistance training-induced muscle hypertrophy. Frontiers in Physiologie. Vol 6. Article 245, 2015
  4. Phillips, S.M. Defining Optimum Proteïn Intake for Athletes. Sports Nutrition, The Encyclopaedia of Sports Medicen XIX. Wiley Blackwell, 2014