Protein Shake After Running: 3 Pros and 4 Cons

Are you a runner looking for ways to improve your overall performance and recovery? Drinking a protein shake after running has become increasingly popular among endurance athletes.

Consuming protein powder after running can reduce muscle soreness, promote lean muscle growth, and boost overall energy levels. In this article, we cover the advantages and potential drawbacks of including a protein shake in your routine, as well as tips on how to choose the best product.

Consuming protein after running can reduce muscle soreness and increase energy levels. Protein supplements like snacks, powders, and shakes can help improve performance, enhance endurance, and increase the recovery of muscles after runs. However, excess protein intake may cause digestive issues, imbalanced macronutrient intake, or weight gain.

Do Runners Need Protein?

For both optimal performance and muscle growth and health, runners need to consume enough protein to keep up with the physical demands of their sport.

Runner drinking post-run protein shakes

Protein is an essential macronutrient that helps to build strong muscles, fuel performance, and enable muscle recovery. Protein consists of amino acids, which are the building blocks of the human body’s cells and tissues.

There are several types of protein sources available to runners, including animal-based proteins such as chicken, beef, pork, and eggs, and plant-based proteins like tofu, edamame beans, and quinoa.

Why Do Runners Need Protein?

The importance of protein to runners can’t be overstated. It plays an important role in muscle recovery and growth, endurance, performance, preventing overtraining, and supporting basic bodily functions.

High-quality sources of protein contain all the essential amino acids necessary for building muscle mass, which enables runners to train efficiently and recover faster after workouts. Inadequate protein intake results in weak muscles, making runners more prone to injuries.

Post-run protein shakes can provide the essential amino acids needed to rebuild worn muscles and create an environment conducive to muscle development. Additionally, post-workout proteins promote glycogen resynthesis, which provides much needed energy during strenuous workouts, such as running marathons or other long-distance runs.

3 Main Types of Protein Supplements for Runners

Protein supplements used by runners typically include snacks, protein powder, and protein shakes that optimize muscle growth, performance, and recovery. Let’s discuss them in more detail:

1. Protein Snacks

Some of the best sources for protein specific to runners are chicken, beef, pork, fish, eggs, dairy products, tofu, and different protein bars. These can be consumed in snack-sized portions throughout the day or after a run to help refuel muscles quickly while keeping hunger at bay until one’s next meal.

Best sources chart for protein to runners

2. Protein Powder

Protein powder is an excellent and convenient food supplement for runners who are trying to increase their muscle growth, body composition, and endurance. Whey, casein, egg white protein powders, and plant-based alternatives like hemp or pea protein make up some of the most popular types of protein powders available on the market today.

Protein supplements like protein powders for runners

3. Pre-Made Protein Shake

Pre-made protein shakes are popular among runners looking to optimize their training and recovery. After running, consuming a protein shake can help repair damaged muscles, support the growth of new muscle tissue, and offer a steady release of energy for improved endurance and performance.

Muscle Milk protein shake

3 Benefits of Protein for Runners

Protein helps with muscle recovery and repair, improved muscle growth and strength, and enhanced endurance and performance. It is the perfect post-run supplement!

1. Muscle Recovery and Repair

Adequate protein intake after a run helps facilitate muscle and tissue recovery so the muscles can become stronger. According to research, whey protein can help boost recovery and reduce inflammation because it contains essential amino acids that repair tissues damaged by intense exercise.

2. Improved Muscle Growth and Strength

Consuming protein before and after your run can be highly advantageous for enhancing muscle growth and strength. In addition, protein supplementation slows down catabolism (muscle breakdown) and promotes anabolic action (muscle building).

Woman drink protein shake to enhance muscle growth

3. Enhanced Endurance and Performance

Protein shakes can be an excellent source of nutrients for runners looking to enhance endurance and performance. Protein shakes consumed after running provide essential amino acids that are absorbed quickly by the body, helping prevent fatigue while optimizing strength and power output throughout training sessions.

4 Disadvantages and Risks of Protein for Runners

Intake of protein supplements by runners has potential risks that need to be discussed in more detail:

1. Digestive Issues

High doses of rapidly digested proteins can contribute to digestive issues such as increased bowel movements, bloating, and reduced appetite.

icon run

Pro Tip:

It’s important for runners to monitor their digestion when adding extra protein into their diet. They must determine how much and what type of protein works best for them.

icon run

Pro Tip:

It’s important for runners to monitor their digestion when adding extra protein into their diet. They must determine how much and what type of protein works best for them.

2. Imbalanced Macronutrient Intake

High levels of protein in a diet can lead to an imbalanced intake of macronutrients. Runners need carbohydrates for energy and fat for optimal health, both of which may be thrown off balance when there is excess protein in the diet.

Too much protein consumption has been associated with decreased performance due to inadequate carbohydrate reserves during training sessions and not enough fat consumption for injury prevention and special adaptation.

Subscribe to Our Running Newsletter!

Get free running tips from renowned professional athletes and discounts from top-notch brands.

3. Increased Kidney Load

Too much dietary protein can put additional stress on the kidneys. Researchers have found that high-protein diets may cause changes in kidney function for people predisposed to kidney disorders or already having such conditions.

This is especially risky for people with pre-existing kidney disease or those who have a history of high blood pressure. These issues are known to increase the risk of developing kidney complications from excessive intake of protein.

4. Weight Gain

A high-protein diet may lead to an unhealthy increase of fatty tissue if not accompanied by sufficient exercise and a balanced intake of other macronutrients. In addition, high-sugar protein shakes have a high number of calories per serving.

To avoid this situation, runners should make sure to get the proper nutrients their body needs through a well-rounded diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and grains, in addition to appropriate servings of protein each day.

Is Protein Good After a Run or Before?

Understanding whether to consume protein shake before or after running is important, as timing can affect muscle and strength recovery after a tough running session.

Man prepared protein shake for training

Timing and Frequency of Consumption

When it comes to the timing and frequency of consumption, protein shakes are best taken within 1-3 hours after a workout. This allows your body to begin the recovery and refueling process more effectively. It will also help you develop a healthy habit of eating enough protein, which will help you reap the benefits of this supplement in the long run.

Consuming protein every three hours is more beneficial for muscle building and recovery than two large daily doses or smaller, more frequent doses.

It’s important to note that there is no specific recommendation for consuming protein shakes on non-workout days. However, growing evidence shows that spacing out small meals high in complete proteins throughout the day can aid in weight loss when combined with exercise. As a result, drinking a protein shake after running for weight loss may be beneficial.

Daily Amount of Protein for Runners

As an active individual, your required intake of protein will be higher than that of a sedentary individual. A runner should aim to consume between 0.5-0.8 grams per pound of body weight. Extreme endurance athletes require the high end of this range due to increased repair processes and muscle damage caused by their intense exercise.

icon run

Pro Tip:

It is important to meet total daily protein intake targets rather than just focusing on post-workout consumption. This offers more benefits in terms of recovery and growth over time.

icon run

Pro Tip:

It is important to meet total daily protein intake targets rather than just focusing on post-workout consumption. This offers more benefits in terms of recovery and growth over time.

How to Choose Protein Shakes for Runners

When selecting the best post-run protein shake, runners should consider 3 main rules to get the maximum benefits:

1. Consider the Source of the Protein

Runners should consider the source of protein when selecting an after-run shake, as this affects its overall nutritional profile. Whey is one of the most popular sources of added protein.

On the other hand, plant-based proteins provide a variety of essential micronutrients such as vitamins A, C, E, along with minerals like copper and zinc, which are beneficial for runners.

2. Look for Quality Ingredients and Minimal Additives

Protein drinks made from low-quality sources and poor quality control may provide inadequate nutrition and won’t help runners reach their goals.

Choose supplements from reputable brands with the best ingredients to keep your body safe and increase your running performance.

3. Consider Personal Dietary Preferences and Restrictions

When selecting the right protein shake, it’s important to consider personal dietary preferences and restrictions. For instance, if you are vegetarian or vegan, this could influence your choice in terms of protein powder type.

Those with food allergies or intolerances should also take into account these considerations, as certain ingredients may trigger adverse reactions. Plant-based proteins such as pea, soy, or rice can be suitable alternatives for those with dietary restrictions, while individuals who are lactose intolerant may need to avoid whey.

The 5 Best Protein Shakes for Runners

Below, you will find 5 of the best protein shakes for runners, from vegan plant-based options to sugar-free BCAA powder packets. Discover what works best for your needs and start optimizing your post-run recovery!

Optimal Balance Of Energy And Nutrition

Muscle Milk Pro Advanced Nutrition Protein Shake

Muscle Milk Pro Advanced Nutrition Protein Shake

This is the perfect choice for runners looking for a complete meal solution. With just 1g of sugar, 16 vitamins and minerals, and a good source of fiber, it offers an optimal balance of sustained energy and nutrition.

This product contains special ingredients designed to help reduce muscle soreness, rebuild lean muscle tissues, and speed up protein absorption into the body.


  • Delicious creamy texture and flavors.
  • Low sugar content.
  • Fiber, vitamins, and minerals.


  • Some users find the aluminum cover hard to peel off.
Muscle Milk Pro Advanced Nutrition Protein Shake

Post-Workout Recovery Powder

Garden of Life Sport Post Workout Muscle Recovery Powder

Garden Of Life Sport Post-Workout Muscle Recovery Powder

This supplement is an all-natural vegan protein powder designed to help runners get the most out of their workouts. Its advanced formula contains 30g of complete protein, including 5.5g of BCAAs and 5g of glutamine and glutamic acid for enhanced muscle recovery, repair, growth, and strength.

This blend provides macro nutrients with minimal additives or processing agents, allowing athletes to recover quickly after exercise.


  • Organic compounds.
  • Plant protein + whey protein.
  • USDA Organic product.


  • May have a strong aftertaste.
Garden of Life Sport Post Workout Muscle Recovery Powder

Post-Workout Energy-Packed

XTEND Original BCAA Powder Blue Raspberry Ice

Xtend Original BCAA Powder

This blend offers an energy-packed post-workout solution for runners looking to replenish lost electrolytes and reduce recovery time. The drink is sugar free, allowing you to enjoy the delicious blue raspberry flavor without any added sweeteners.

Each serving of this powder contains 7 grams of muscle-rebuilding BCAAs, as well as 125 milligrams of caffeine that helps boost energy levels and alertness following a run.


  • Zero calories, zero carbs.
  • Improves hydration.
  • 16 delicious flavors.


  • Some users don’t like the aftertaste.
XTEND Original BCAA Powder Blue Raspberry Ice

Muscle Repair And Growth

Amino VITAL Rapid Recovery

Amino Vital Rapid Recovery

Amino Vital Rapid Recovery contains 5 essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, valine, arginine, and glutamine. These are the specific set of amino acids most involved in muscle repair and growth.


  • Focus on key amino acids for muscle recovery and growth.
  • Easy to take on the go.
  • Dissolves easily.


  • Contains carbs.
Amino VITAL Rapid Recovery

Post Workout Recovery

KEY NUTRIENTS Electrolytes BCAA Powder

Key Nutrients Post-Workout Electrolytes BCAA Powder

This post-workout supplement offers athletes vital micronutrients for recovery. It contains BCAAs and electrolytes, which play an essential role in muscle performance and repair.

This powder is ideal for runners who need extra fuel for endurance activities or strength building/power-lifting exercises.


  • Low carb content.
  • Natural and science-backed.
  • Loaded with electrolytes.


  • Artificial aftertaste.
KEY NUTRIENTS Electrolytes BCAA Powder

Frequently Asked Questions About Protein Shake After Running

Should I Drink Protein After Running?

Yes! Drinking a protein shake after cardio workouts can be beneficial for runners in several ways. It provides an energy boost and helps with muscle repair, enabling runners to get back in the game stronger than before.

Is It Okay to Drink Whey Protein After Running?

Whey proteins contain high-quality amino acids, which are essential building blocks for muscles that aid in faster muscle recovery and growth. Consuming a whey protein shake after a run helps refuel your body, replenish energy stores, promote muscle growth, and increase overall performance during future workouts.

Will Protein Shakes Make Me Put on Weight?

Protein shakes alone are not enough to cause weight gain. However, depending on the other ingredients, they can certainly contribute to it. If protein shakes contain high levels of sugar and other types of carbohydrates, along with a large amount of calories, they can lead to weight gain over time.

Final Thoughts on a Protein Shake After Running

Protein shakes can be a great post-run supplement for many runners, as they provide a source of quickly absorbed, high-quality protein to aid in recovery. But it’s important to take into account individual dietary needs and goals when deciding whether or not to incorporate them into your routine.

It’s also essential to look at a number of factors, such as the timing of consumption, potential risks involved, types of proteins used in supplements, and how much protein is being consumed each day.

When using these types of supplemental powders, athletes should remember that moderation is key. As with everything, too much isn’t necessarily better!

Have you ever tried any protein supplements for running? Please share your experience in the comments below.

Also Read:


  1. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise // PubMed: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28642676/
  2. Effects of Protein Supplementation on Performance and Recovery in Resistance and Endurance Training // PMC: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6142015/#:~:text=Protein%20supplementation%20and%20endurance%20training
  3. Protein Requirements Are Elevated in Endurance Athletes after Exercise as Determined by the Indicator Amino Acid Oxidation Method // PMC: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4913918/
  4. Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window? // Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-10-5#:~:text=There%20is%20evidence%20that%20adding,calorie%2Dequated%20carbohydrate%20solution%20alone.
  5. Protein for exercise and recovery // PubMed: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20048505/
  6. Effect of Whey Supplementation on Circulating C-Reactive Protein: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials // MDPI: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/7/2/1131
  7. Beyond muscle hypertrophy: why dietary protein is important for endurance athletes // Canadian Science Publishing: https://cdnsciencepub.com/doi/10.1139/apnm-2013-0591
  8. Dietary Protein, Kidney Function and Mortality: Review of the Evidence from Epidemiological Studies // PMC: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6356875
  9. International society of sports nutrition position stand: nutrient timing // Taylor and Francis Online: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1186/s12970-017-0189-4
  10. Effects of Protein Supplementation on Performance and Recovery in Resistance and Endurance Training // Frontiers Media: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2018.00083/full
  11. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise // Taylor and Francis Online: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1186/s12970-017-0177-8
  12. A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults // BMJ Journals: https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/52/6/376

If you have any questions or suggestions, you can contact us via email – [email protected]

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *