Timing Your Proteins

As a continuation to my last post on carb timing, today we will shift our focus on protein timing.

Lots of socials hype up protein through a series of high protein merchandise. It’s true that both endurance and strength athletes benefit a lot from maximising their protein intake as explained in one of my previous posts, however there are particular instances where our body requires it most, and it would benefit athletes to know when to eat their proteins to maximise its benefits.

Pro sources


Pre exercise protein intake has shown significant differences in muscle breakdown vs synthesis after exercise, resulting in a reduction in net muscle loss. This means that ingesting proteins prior to exercising helps to increase strength and retain lean muscle mass.


As a general recommendation, exercise guidelines suggest intake of carbs + protein 3-4 hours before training in a ratio of;

1-2gcarbs/kg body weight + 0.15-0.25gprotrein/kg body weight

During exercise

When exercising for long periods of time, a carb + protein solution is recommended. Some studies showed that supplementing with protein in combination with carbs, can improve endurance performance, as well as offset muscle damage when resistance training.

However, protein intake during exercise needs to be ingested in smaller ratios when compared to carbs, as lots of protein during performance can impact digestion.

Post exercise

The post exercise window is split into two phases; the 30min carb window and the remaining hours that follow. Both phases need to be tackled differently when it comes to nutrition.


Phase 1. In the 30min window, the body requires primarily carbs to maximise muscle glycogen replenishment. However the addition of protein (0.2g-0.5g /kg body weight) further boosts muscle glycogen (body’s energy stores) resynthesis.

Phase 2. At up to 3 hours post workout, ingestion of essential amino acids (protein) with a small portion of carbs helps boost muscle protein synthesis. This combination of carbs + protein post workout has shown great body composition and strength improvements for resistance athletes when compared to other control groups consuming carbs only. In this phase however, greater importance is given to the portion of protein.

A 20–40-g dose of protein is recommended post workout to maximize muscle build up for three to four hours following exercise.

For resistance training adaptations, creatine supplementation also deserves a mention. Studies have shown that groups supplementing with protein + creatine + carbs post workout have shown greater gains in lean muscle mass, maximising training adaptations.

Rebecca Micallef Dalli
Rebecca Micallef Dalli Member of the British Dietetic Association (SENR Registered), MSc. in Exercise and Nutrition Science. SENR Graduate Registrant
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