What Happens When You Lift Weights Without Protein

Sure, eat protein, train, and you will be great! Yes, most of you already know, to stay healthy and build muscle you need to eat an appropriate amount of protein, and obviously train hard. However, if you are one of the people who, for some reason, have a doubt, please keep reading what I found out…

You are doing weightlifting, right, but if you don’t eat enough protein, your body will suffer a lot.

What Will Happen to You When You do Weightlifting Without Protein

See below a list of potential health issues:

  • muscles loss (muscle atrophy)
  • impossible muscle gain (even if you exercise more)
  • fatigue, low energy level
  • higher risk of injury
  • if you get injured the healing process may be complicated
  • the pain of bones, muscles, and joints

Also, if you do not eat a protein at all or eat them too little then you can experience the following health problems:

  • weight loss, or weight gain (this is an unhealthy way of gaining or losing weight)
  • hair loss
  • depression
  • sluggish metabolism
  • learning problems, lack of concentration
  • mood swings
  • impaired immune system
  • ladies – irregular menstrual cycle
  • insomnia

Even if you do more weightlifting, but your diet will be wrong, you will achieve poor results along with health issues. Due to a lack of protein, your energy needs and tissue regeneration needs will not be met. And if you start do weightlifting on such a poor diet, then this will speed up the degeneration process of your body.

As you can see the weightlifting without protein is a terrible idea. Also, any diet without protein, and doesn’t matter you do any exercise or not is a terrible idea too. Never go for this kind of food ideas, please!

Is it Better to Eat Protein Before or After a Workout?

It is good to eat protein before and after a workout. However, the experience of many weightlifters shows that eating protein meal after training is giving the best results. Protein consumption after weightlifting is very important for post-workout regeneration and muscle mass building. Eating high-quality proteins is essential.

Treatment of micro-injuries sustained during training requires the supply of amino acids, which regenerate and rebuild the muscle tissue. Muscles repair processes also need leucine (essential amino acid) and insulin (the peptide hormone).

When we are talking about a meal before training the most optimal solution is to eat a balanced meal consisting of proteins, complex carbohydrates, and fats. And this meal should be consumed about 2 hours before the workout.

This kind of meal will slowly release energy, and you will feel well-fed. Two hours break between meals and training will make food no longer weigh on your stomach and will not interfere with your workout. Also, the important thing is that the pre-training food must be relatively lightly digestible.

How big a meal (and what it will consist of) you eat before training depends on at least several factors. The importance of the time of exercise, its duration, type of training, your overall caloric balance, as well as your digestive capacity and food preferences.

How Much Protein Should I Eat After Weight Lifting

The answer is 20 – 30g of protein when you are doing split exercise weightlifting and 40g of protein when you are doing whole-body exercise. Those amounts of proteins are sufficient for muscle growth and strength and can be (should be) consumed after weightlifting.

Do you need a protein shake to meet above? No, most of the protein requirements can be readily provided using a balanced diet recommended for weightlifting. However, if you still consider protein supplements, please consider your health too, and always choose the best, high-quality protein supplements. You can check prices of protein supplements on this Amazon link.

The best sources of lean protein are chicken, turkey, eggs, beef, lamb, pork chops, semi-fat milk, fish, and seafood. For vegetarians, eggs will be the best choice and then semi-fat dairy (in moderation), tofu, cereals, seeds, nuts, legumes.

The generally recommended amount of protein intake for weightlifters is 0.55 to 0.91 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily to build muscle. For example, a person with a weight of 200 pounds needs from 110 to 182 grams of protein per day. This recommendation was published in 2012 by the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.”

In general to increase the muscle size in practice and based on my own and my friend’s experience the best results gives from 1 to 1.4 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. My advice is to try to work it out what amount of protein is best for you.

Amount of Proteins in Some Popular Products

Protein per 100 grams of:

  • chicken: 27 g
  • turkey: 29 g
  • chicken egg (whole cooked): from 10.62 to 13.63 g
  • beef (high, average and low scores): from 16.9 to 40.6 g
  • lamb (Methionine): from 20.91 to 50.9 g
  • pork chops: 29 g
  • semi-fat milk: 3.4g g
  • fish (Atlantic Salmon): 20 g
  • tofu: 8 g
  • mixed nuts: 20 g

What Happens When You Overeat Protein

Doesn’t matter you do weightlifting or not; if you overeat protein this will affect your health negatively, certainly!  Yes, overeating protein or not eating at all as above is dangerous to your health. The popularity of “high-protein” diets can cause longtime protein overeating which can link to many serious health issues.

Too much protein is also too many calories that will be converted into sugar in the body and then into fat. As may you know, excess blood sugar is an excellent food for yeast (Candida albicans), and pathogenic bacteria. Research also confirms that excess sugar in the blood stimulates the growth of cancer cells.

For example, according to Chinese medicine, excess sugar causes damp-heat conditions, which cause the formation of many dangerous diseases, including many types of cancer.

When there is too much protein in your diet, your body has to remove more harmful metabolic products from your blood, which in turn burden the kidneys. Then hardworking kidneys,  excrete more urine, which can cause dehydration of the body. The above statement has been proved by the example of research involving endurance athletes.

What Are Proteins Made Of

The protein is found in all living organisms. Proteins are multimolecular biopolymers made up of amino acid residues joined together by peptide bundles -CONH-. There are about 20 amino acids (Amazon link), and 8 of them, called essential or exogenous (lysine, leucine, isoleucine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine) are contained in a protein of animal origin and legume seeds (soybeans, beans).

Essential Amino Acids And Their Functions in The Human Body

  • Isoleucine – it regulates the level of sugar in the blood, takes part in the formation of hemoglobin. This amino acid is metabolized and processed into muscle tissue. Also, it has an impact on energy level and energy production.
  • Methionine – supports the formation of liver and kidney tissue. Also, it removes toxic residues from the liver. Also, it has a positive effect on the digestive system, strengthens muscles, hair and has a healing effect on osteoporosis.
  • Lysine – it builds proteins, mainly in muscles and bones. Also, very important for children’s development. Moreover, it helps to absorb calcium, positively influences increased mental concentration. It removes the symptoms of colds and flu.
  • Leucine – essential amino acid, contained in animal and vegetable protein. It controls the level of sugar in the blood.
  • Phenylalanine – very helpful in the loss of memory, depression, and obesity. By affecting the central nervous system, it reduces a migraine, menstrual pain, and pain associated with arthritis.
    Also phenylalanine, it is an essential component in the production of collagen.
  • Threonine – it is located in the central nervous system, muscles, and heart. Very important in the formation of elastin and collagen. Supports the liver and maintain a balance of protein in the body.
  • Tryptophan – good for the heart, relieves stress. The brain is using this amino acid to produce melatonin and serotonin and the neurotransmitters which are needed to transfer nerve impulses from one cell to another. The deficiency of serotonin and melatonin causes insomnia, depression and other mental disorders.  Tryptophan also stimulates the growth of hormones needed for the production of niacin (nicotinic acid – vitamin B3) and vitamin B6.
  • Valine – it has a stimulating effect. It should be combined with isoleucine and leucine. Also,  maintains muscle metabolism, contributes to nitrogen balance and regenerates tissues.


As you can read above the weightlifting without eating proteins can be a very dangerous idea. By doing this in the long run, when you will continue this kind of way of eating you might put at risk your health and even your life.

To keep good health,  eating good quality proteins is extremely important. However, the amount of their consumption is depended on your needs and target that you wish to achieve.

You must remember about eating the optimal amount of protein in your meals. This amount means that a minimum of 20g of protein in a proper meal you have to eat to reach the leucine threshold.

A good idea is semi-liquid or liquid meals (Amazon link). This kind of meal is for the digestive system less burdening. After eating such a meal already 30-60 minutes later, you can start your workout.

Also, when you are having a meal (it doesn’t matter a more liquid or a solid one), you should also remember to chew it properly and mix with the saliva before swallowing it. Such a meal will be easily digestible, and your digestive system will absorb it quickly. When food nutrients are absorbed well, you will have a good, healthy and strong body. The fit and muscular body naturally will improve the quality of your life.

There is no doubt that weightlifting will give you fantastic results, but you must follow diet principles and lifestyle recommendations.

Please read my next article about “What Accessories Should I Use In Weightlifting?”

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What Happens When You Lift Weights Without Protein

Tomasz Faber

HI, MY NAME IS TOMASZ, and welcome to my site WeightliftingPlace.com. I’m a weightlifter, and I’m very much interested in health and fitness subjects. Throughout a few years of my weightlifting training, and diet experience, I managed to make my body much, much stronger, as well as build endurance and athletic figure. I live in London, UK, where I enjoy my weightlifting training...read more...

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