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What are the best proteins for athlete recovery?

Choose high-quality protein sources, to enhance your body's ability to support Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS). These provide all the essential amino acids (EAA) required by the body in sufficient amounts. In addition, opt for slow- versus fast-digestible protein options dependent on timing of the day.

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Written by: The Athlete’s FoodCoach, on 17-11-2023
Best protein for athletes recovery

Why is high quality protein the best source for athlete recovery?

Proteins considered being high-quality offer several advantages:

  1. Essential building blocks: High-quality proteins contain all 9 essential amino acids (EAA), which cannot be produced by the body. This EAA content is crucial for stimulating MPS and serve as the building blocks for muscle repair, remodeling and growth.
  2. Improved digestion and absorption: High-quality protein is easy digestible and will be absorbed faster. This allows amino acids to reach the bloodstream and muscles more quickly, which may be an ideal strategy after a training session..
  3. Enhanced MPS Stimulation: High-quality proteins contain high levels of leucine, a key amino acid that boosts MPS and acts as a building block for the formation of new skeletal muscle proteins.

High-quality proteins are most often found in animal products. However, it's important to consider the environmental perspective as well. Plant-based diets are more often eco-friendly, and athletes can achieve MPS levels by implementing complex nutrition strategies to compensate for the lower quality protein.

How do I get the quality of my protein intake on point?

  1. Opt for high-quality protein: Animal proteins typically boast a complete profile of all EAA's, whereas plant proteins often lack in at least 1 of the EAA's. In case of plant-based protein, choose sources rich in Leucine or close to full EAA profile.
  2. Increase quantity of plant-based protein: If your meals primarily consist of plant-based protein sources, aim to consume protein at the upper end of the recommended range provided by the FoodCoach app.
  3. Pre-bedtime protein: Opt for a slow digestible protein (eg. casei) as pre-bedtime snack. This enhances MPS during sleep, mitigating the effect of negative muscle protein balance period.

Since there's no evidence to suggest that protein obtained from supplements is superior, you can use regular food to put these strategies into action. Use the FoodCoach app to structure your training and receive customized protein recommendations for every meal moment. Tune your own meals with regular ingredients to maximize protein intake, maintain energy balance, and fit seamlessly into your eating routine.

Example of FoodCoach app

Popular meals and snacks rich in high quality protein

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