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Heather Kearney

Heather Kearney, registered dietitian at Hy-Vee, shares tips for using protein powder after exercise. 

Question: With the New Year around the corner, I plan to get on a better exercise routine, but I want to make sure I am doing it right. I was told that it is important to get protein after my workouts and was interested in using a protein powder. How do I know I would be getting enough protein or even which kind of protein powder to choose? 

Submitted by Lisa W., Davenport, Iowa

Answer: For athletes, gym-goers, fitness buffs and anyone who may kick off the New Year with a new exercise routine, you might be wondering if you’re getting enough, or maybe even too much, protein. And you’d be right to question this. With increased activity and strength training comes an increased need for nutrients such as protein and carbohydrates — especially immediately following a workout.

The amount of protein you need following exercise depends on your body composition and type of workout, but will likely range between 15 and 25 grams. Just remember: You need water to digest protein, so if you’re consuming more protein, you’ll need to drink more water. At Hy-Vee, your store dietitian can help you calculate how much protein you need and offer advice and recipes to help you reach your goals.

While it’s preferred to get protein and other nutrients from food, in some cases, a protein supplement such as whey protein powder is a convenient option for quick post-workout recovery. But what exactly is whey protein, and are protein supplements safe?

Well, for starters, whey comes from milk and is usually the by-product of cheese making — it’s the liquid part that separates from the curds. When compared to casein (the other protein found in milk), studies show that whey provides more muscle protein synthesis after exercise.

As for safety, it’s best to look for products that have been certified by a third-party quality assurance program, such as Consumer Lab, Informed-Sport, NSF, or USP. These labels mean that products have been tested to ensure the ingredients listed are accurate and contain no banned substances.

Strawberry banana smoothie bowl 

For an on-the-go breakfast or post-workout snack, prepare these simple smoothie bowls in mason jars for portability and convenience. 


1 banana, peeled and frozen     

1 scoop Vanilla Bean Performance Inspired Whey Protein            

1 Hy-Vee non-fat Greek vanilla or strawberry yogurt      

½ cup sliced strawberries or other fruit     

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2 tbsp. Hy-Vee sliced almonds  

1 tsp. chia or hemp seeds


Blend banana, protein powder, and yogurt until smooth. Pour into 2 bowls or mason jars. Top with berries, nuts, seeds, or additional toppings as desired.

Nutrition facts per serving: 250 calories, 4g fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 90mg sodium, 32g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 18g sugar, 22g protein

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