What happens if you eat protein and don’t workout?

This brief guide will answer the query “What happens if you eat protein and don’t workout?” We will provide relevant information regarding the role of protein in your body and the effect of a high-protein diet in your body composition.

What happens if you eat protein and don’t workout?

There is no clear answer for what happens if you eat protein and don’t workout, overall, the main counterpart of not working out is that you maybe will not gain muscle mass (1,2). 

What is the Role of Protein in the Body?

Proteins have special roles in almost all processes of your metabolism, they can create tissues like organs, muscle, and hair, and even they are needed to synthesize critical molecules in your body like: hormones, enzymes, and immune cells (3).

The most important role associated with proteins is growth and development, especially in children. However, proteins are also essential in mid-aged adults and elderly people to prevent fractures and increase the overall life quality (3).

What are the Potential Effects on your Body Composition?

There are some popular concerns that protein is converted into fat if you don’t workout. This is not true, protein alone is not going to increase your body fat mass, it is an excess of calorie intake that actually can increase your body fat mass (1,2).

In fact, there are diets based on a high protein content (for instance, Atkins diet, zone diet, high-protein diet), which have been shown to reduce weight and fat mass in people; for instance, Bray et al. (2) found no differences between subjects doing a high, mid and a low protein diet.

Moreover, the main benefit attributed to proteins is muscle hypertrophy, but if you are not working out, probably you will not see muscle gain. 

Why is it Difficult to Build Muscle Without Working Out?

It is difficult to build muscle without working out because exercise is the main stimuli to protein synthesis and hypertrophy (4,5). 

When you exercise, your muscles get micro injuries that should be repaired. To repair the damage caused by exercise, your body will activate different metabolic processes to create more and stronger muscle fibers (4,5).

How Much Protein Should You Consume?

A healthy person should consume 0.8 g/kg of protein, but if you are elderly or an athlete, the general recommendations suggest between 1.2 and 1.6 g/kg (6,7).

Are there any Health Concerns for Protein Overconsumption?

There is controversy about the health concerns for protein overconsumption; in healthy people, the literature has reported a safe consumption of 3 g/kg of weight daily (6). 

But if you already have a disease, specifically kidney disease, you should moderate your protein intake to 0.8 g/kg or less (8). 

Remember that the best thing you can do is look for professional advice from a nutrition specialist to adjust your macronutrients and energy intake.


This brief guide answered the query “What happens if you eat protein and don’t workout?” We provided relevant information regarding the role of protein in your body and the effect of a high-protein diet in your body composition.


  1. Pesta DH, Samuel VT. A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats. Nutr Metab, 2014;19,11(1):53.
  1. Bray GA, Smith SR, de Jonge L, Xie H, Rood J, Martin CK, Most M, Brock C, Mancuso S, Redman LM. Effect of dietary protein content on weight gain, energy expenditure, and body composition during overeating: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA, 2012;307(1):47-55.
  1. Olson B, Marks DL, Grossberg AJ. Diverging metabolic programmes and behaviours during states of starvation, protein malnutrition, and cachexia. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle, 2020;11(6):1429–46.
  1. Krzysztofik M, Wilk M, Wojdała G, Gołaś A. Maximizing muscle hypertrophy: A systematic review of advanced resistance training techniques and methods. Int J Environ Res Public Health,2019;16(24):4897.
  1. Wackerhage H, Schoenfeld BJ, Hamilton DL, Lehti M, Hulmi JJ. Stimuli and sensors that initiate skeletal muscle hypertrophy following resistance exercise. J Appl Physiol, 2019;126(1):30–43.
  1. Huecker M, Sarav M, Pearlman M, Laster J. Protein supplementation in sport: Source, timing, and intended benefits. Curr Nutr Rep, 2019;8(4):382–96.
  1. Dardevet D, Mosoni L, Savary-Auzeloux I, Peyron M-A, Polakof S, Rémond D. Important determinants to take into account to optimize protein nutrition in the elderly: solutions to a complex equation. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. Cambridge University Press, 2021;80(2):207–20.
  1. Ko GJ, Obi Y, Tortorici AR, Kalantar-Zadeh K. Dietary protein intake and chronic kidney disease. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, 2017;20(1):77-85.

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