If you’ve ever wanted to learn about how to build more muscle or recover faster, you’re probably aware that protein is an essential part to making sure you get the most out of your workouts. It’s important in muscle repair, growth, and recovery. However, a common question that arises is whether not you should be having more protein on days where you are working out compared to days where you are resting.
The role of protein
Regardless of whether it’s a gym day or not, protein plays a vital role in your daily life. Protein is commonly marketed as the macronutrient that repairs and rebuilds muscle damage. This is true, however, protein also has multiple roles in ensuring that your body is staying healthy. It is responsible for nail and hair growth, keeping your skin healthy, as well as helping the function of every process in the human body. Because of this, maintaining an adequate protein intake day to day is crucial for not only optimal performance and progress, but also for keeping your body healthy.
How much protein do you need?
The amount of protein you specifically need is going to depend on your sport as well as your current goals. Although we go into more detail in a previous blog, the general rule of thumb is 1.6g/kg of bodyweight in protein for athletes. This recommendation will increase if you are trying to retain muscle mass while losing body fat and can range anywhere between 2-2.5g/kg of bodyweight in protein depending on how important muscle mass retention is compared to performance. For more specific guidelines on how much protein you should be having, consider checking out our previous blog or speaking to a sports dietitian.
Do you need more protein on gym days?
The short answer for this question is no, you don’t necessarily need more protein on gym days compared to rest days. What matters more is meeting your total daily protein needs consistently throughout the week.
To break down why this is the case, we can use protein intake while losing weight as an example. Although our body does utilise protein to repair muscles on gym days, its more important role is actually around maintaining our muscle mass by having enough protein available. Our body will try to break down our muscle for energy when in a deficit and therefore having protein in the body will help prevent this from happening. Because of this, the protein is needed every single day rather than just on days when we are in the gym.