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  • Kate Harrell

Protein Recommendation

By Sports Dietitian Kate Harrell, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, ACSM-CPT

Looking to improve recovery or increase muscle mass?

We often focus on increasing the total amount of protein across the day, which is certainly beneficial, but newer research emphasizes other strategies to help improve muscle protein synthesis. These are effective strategies, whether you are looking to add muscle mass, recover more quickly from an injury, or stave off muscle loss that can often happen with age.


What do we need to know?


Distribute protein equally across the day.


Research over the last decade has indicated that the distribution of protein across the day is as important as the total amount of protein we consume. We need to meet a certain threshold of intake per meal and match that multiple times per day to maintain muscle protein synthesis. Many tend to backload both their calories and their protein intake (consuming the majority with the dinner meal). If you want to best help your muscle, consider distributing your protein more equally across the day.


Leucine is a trigger for muscle protein synthesis.


Leucine, one of our essential amino acids (meaning we have toconsume it from food), acts as a trigger for muscle protein synthesis. Leucine rich foods include: beef, chicken, salmon, lentils, cottage cheese, yogurt and more.


Time protein intake after exercise or treatment.


Include a protein rich snack or meal after exercise or treatment. Recommendations are 20-25g after exercise, as soon as possible. Pairing with other foods can also enhance recovery. A great example is a nutrient dense smoothie made with Greek yogurt (protein), berries, greens and healthy fats like ground flax or chia seeds. Cover all your bases for a speedy recovery.


Looking for more specifics on how much protein you need or how to best distribute? Contact Kate Harrell at

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