How to tone up and bulk up with 20g of recovery protein

Tone up with your 20 grams of recovery protein, and make it fishy!

As a nerd I like to have a set of rules to work to. I like numbers, and I like it when they’re based on research. It also helps when that number answers a question I get asked a lot: how much protein should I eat? For ideal recovery post workout that’ll be 20 grams.

Does protein help you build big muscles? Yes. Does it help repair muscles after a workout reducing risk of injuries and soreness? Yes. Does it help with glycogen replenishment? Yes. So the more protein the better? No! Research has shown that the most protein your body can benefit from in one hit is 20 grams above which you could be doing more damage than good.

Over the course of the day you need 1.2g/kg -1.7g/kg protein, and so 10-20g protein portions can be spread over 5-6 meals/snacks during the day, making sure there’s always some protein in your diet within the 30minute recovery window after exercise. 20g protein is equivalent to a small chicken breast, a fillet of fish, half a block of tofu, a can of beans, 3 eggs, a handful of prawns or a large pot of yoghurt.

No need to spend all your money on sports supplements, you can get your high quality protein from real food. There’s plenty of evidence for chocolate milk in recovery also due to it’s 4:1 carb: protein ratio – just a glass of milk and Nesquick, or a bottle of Yazoo will work. If you’re thinking the same as a previous junior athlete I worked with “but I don’t like the chocolate flavoured ones” then don’t panic, it’s OK – the other flavours work just as well!

The recipe for todays blog could have been a breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack or smoothie. I’ve got loads of 20g 4:1 carbs:protein recipes up my sleeve, but I decided to share this one with you because 1. I think it makes me look quite clever, 2. It’s delicious, 3. I’ve over-dosed on salmon recently and am looking for alternatives sources of omega-3’s. Omega-3 fats are excellent post exercise for their anti-inflammatory properties, and reduce muscle soreness after exercise (Clin J Sport Med 2009).

So get bulked up on your 20 grams, and make it fishy!

Home salt cured rainbow trout - yields two

  • 2 rainbow trout fillets.

For the cure:

  • 20g sea salt.
  • 40g caster sugar.
  • 1tsp fennel seeds.
  • 1tsp corriander seeds.
  • 1/2tsp black peppercorns.


  • Put all cure ingredients into food processor and blitz until fine.
  • Cut a piece of foil four times the size of the trout fillet.
  • Use 1/4 of the cure mix to make a bed for the trout in the centre of the foil.
  • Place trout on salt mix skin side down.
  • Sprinkle 2/3 remaining cure onto fish.
  • Place other fillet on top flesh to flesh.
  • Sprinkle remaining cure on top.
  • Fold up foil into a neat parcel and place on a dish to catch juices.
  • Top with a wooden board and leave in the fridge for the cure to work its magic over six days.
  • After six days rinse the fish and pat dry with kitchen paper.
  • Finely slice off the skin and serve with rye bread and salad.

By Helen PhadnisAdapted from The Ethicurean Cookbook

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