Should You Drink Protein Drinks on Rest Days?
Consuming high-quality protein, even on rest days, will optimize muscle recovery.
Many adults do not get the protein needed for muscle growth, weight loss, or workout recovery. Unless you are very intentional about ensuring the amount of protein you consume is adequate for your busy and active lifestyle, the answer is yes, you should drink protein powder (even on rest days).
Benefits of Protein for Athletes
- Build Muscle: One important way to build muscle mass is to take in enough protein to form the building blocks needed.
- Muscle Repair: Consuming quality protein sources post-workout gives your muscles all the amino acids necessary for muscle tissue repair.
- Refueling: After a workout your protein needs are more than on non-workout days. Athletes need protein within 30 minutes of a workout to optimize recovery and refuel the body.
- Recovery: Recovery is a part of repairing muscles and setting up your body for the next workout.
Yes to Drinking Protein on Rest Days
We are often asked if people should drink protein shakes every day, even on rest days. The answer is yes unless you manage to eat enough protein on an average day.
Protein as part of a balanced diet is important for all of us, but even more so for athletes. The bottom line is that increasing protein (and not just on training days) will help with muscle-building and recovery.
What are the benefits of drinking protein shakes on non-workout days?
- Meal Replacers: If you are trying to increase lean muscle mass or lose weight, drinking a protein shake can be used as a meal replacer.
- Meal Supplement: Trying to gain weight? Protein shakes can add extra calories for people trying for weight gain.
- Recovery: Adding a little protein to your diet is a great way to combat muscle soreness.
- Delicious Treat: As protein powders have evolved, there are many out there that double as a delicious treat. If you thoroughly enjoy a rich, sweet beverage, protein powders and ready-made shakes out there will fulfill your sweet cravings much like a milkshake would.
So How Much Protein Does an Athlete Need?
The amount of protein a person needs really depends on when they are taking it and for what purpose. A macronutrient that can help all types of athletes, protein is essential for many reasons, but the amount of protein needed will vary. For example, while a runner needs protein, they need less than a bodybuilder.
Most people need somewhere between 10-25 grams of protein post-workout (bodybuilders who are working to lower body fat while increasing muscle mass will have higher protein requirements.)
Research shows that if you want to calculate optimal protein consumption, use a dosing range of .25 to .30 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight ( or 0.36 grams per pound).
Protein Sources for Athletes
While there are many excellent protein sources, some are better than others. Some items that are high in protein are whole foods, while others are supplements. Let’s investigate both.
- Eggs: A quick breakfast of scrambled eggs or snacking on boiled eggs is an easy way to get fast protein.
- Lean Meat: Lean meats such as chicken, turkey, or fish are excellent, high-protein foods that can help give you everything your body needs to repair and recover.
- Nuts: A handful of nuts is a convenient way to eat quick protein. Of course, you should remember that nuts are also high in fat and calories, so for some people, this is not their favorite way to increase their daily protein intake.
- Protein Bars: For people on the move post-workout, bars are a great protein supplement that you can keep in your gym bag to have handy when you are ready for it.
- Protein Shakes: Another great way to get extra protein into your diet is by drinking protein shakes. There are many different protein shakes out there, and many athletes favor them overfitting in another meal.
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