Should You Drink A Protein Shake Before Or After A Workout How The Timing Impacts Muscle Growth
A vigorous workout is taxing on the muscles, and the body needs fuel from your diet in order to allow your muscles to rebuild and grow. Protein, one of the three macronutrients , is the building block of the muscles, and without enough protein, you may not see the results youre trying to achieve through your workouts.
Anyone who takes the time to workout and is careful to take in enough protein wants to ensure that they are maximizing the benefit they receive from their protein shake, but should you drink a protein shake before or after a workout?
Why Is Protein Necessary
You can get plenty of protein from actual food.
Protein is great to eat right after any type of workout because the amino acids help your muscles repair themselves. All exercises, from running marathons to weightlifting, create small microtears in your muscles. After you stop working out, your body sends blood and nutrients to heal the site — this is how muscles get stronger. It’s also why post-exercise fuel is vitally important.
However, protein’s role in this process may be slightly overstated. Many researchers say that we consume twice as much protein as we really should — the average adult woman only needs about 55 grams per day, and men need 65 grams. A single serving of protein powder has around 20 to 25 grams of protein, which is a bit of overkill for most people, considering you’re also likely getting protein from your meals.
What Do Protein Shakes Do
Protein shakes are a dietary supplement that provide amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and can come from plant as well as animal sources. Supplementing your diet with a protein shake will help complete or enhance your diet if you need an extra boost to meet your dietary protein target. But thats not all that protein shakes do.
Protein shakes also promote muscle gain, improve performance and recovery, and promote fat loss in the body. Most of us might assume that protein shakes are only for bodybuilders or people who want to pack on serious muscle. But protein shakes may be your best aid for weight loss due to their ability to boost metabolism and increase your feelings of fullness. I could go on and on. The benefits are many and they are immediate. If you increase your protein intake today youll notice positive effects almost immediately.
Don’t Miss: Vega One Nutritional Shake Vs.shakeology
Protein Is The Foundation Of Everything In Your Body Down To The Smallest Cells
THE BENEFITS YOU CAN EXPECT FROM A PROTEIN SHAKE
When it comes to your fitness goals, it doesnt matter if youre trying to figure out how to gain muscle or lose weight and get toned up — you benefit from ensuring you have adequate protein intake. Heres a look at the role protein plays when it comes to three very different fitness goals.
BUILDING LEAN MUSCLE MASS
Protein is essential for muscle growth. Its a basic building block of muscle tissue. Protein shakes are a staple supplement for athletes and gym-goers who are looking to build lean muscle mass. Protein helps repair the small tears in your muscles created by resistance training, which then leads to increased muscle growth over time.
Protein is an important nutrient for weight-loss. Getting enough can boost your metabolism, reduce your appetite, enhance protein synthesis and help you lose body fat while preventing you from losing muscle.
Plus, eating protein-rich foods and taking supplements may help people feel fuller for longer. Feeling full tends to result in smaller portion sizes and less frequent snacking, which can help you maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if necessary.
Protein can help repair damaged muscles and tissues. As a result, athletes and fitness enthusiasts use protein powder to speed up recovery from muscle soreness after a tough workout. And that means keeping up the intensity of your workouts without feeling too depleted.
Bedtime Protein > Bedtime Stories
Taking Protein Powder Before Bed
Apart from drinking water, sleep is the most important routine in your life. Its arguably even more important than eating you can go longer without food than you can without sleep. Pairing good sleep with great nutrition is one of the easiest ways to keep your body refreshed and healthy. Your body is most productive at repairing and rebuilding tired muscles overnight, which is why your bedtime routine is just as important as your exercise one. Having a protein shake especially one that contains a slow-digesting protein like micellar casein will feed your tissues the nutrients they need over the course of that long fast we call sleep.
Should You Drink Protein Shakes On Rest Days
Drinking a protein shake on a rest day can speed up your recovery. The additional protein and amino acids can rejuvenate your muscles. This is because DOMS and fatigue kick in 24-48 hours post-training.
However, it is not essential if you already practice a balanced diet. Eating plenty of protein from a variety of sources is just as effective. A shake makes it easier to consume enough, but this means nothing if you severely lack protein in your diet.
What Are The Different Types Of Protein
Then, of course, there is protein in the food we eat, such as chicken, beef, and salmon.
On the other hand, plant-based are from vegetables, like soy, pea, rice, and chickpeas.
Both sources of protein can produce favorable effects on the body. However, animal protein contains all essential amino acids. This makes it a complete protein source and more powerful.
In contrast, plant-based has some amino acids that are missing and are incomplete. Therefore, you need a combination of different plant-based proteins for your muscles.
Read Also: Cholesterol In Protein Shakes
Protein Shake Mistake #: Youre Making A Meal Of It
There are too many guys who think all protein is created equal and are swapping for shakes. Dont be one of them. It might be quick to take, but a high calorie smoothie is unlikely to fill you up and wont give you as many nutrients as a proper meal, says Baptie. Plus, a full course means your body has to work harder to break down the food so you use up more calories in the digestion process.
If your busy work day makes it too tempting to trade in a meal for a whey shake, then prep your lunchtime the night before. Focus on things like fish, chicken, turkey, beef for the best protein. Theyve got far more nutrients to keep you full, says Baptie. Thats right, investing in some foil, Tupperware and a Mexican tuna salad could be a key step to a chiselled core.
Protein Shake Mistake #: Getting Your Intake ‘window’ Wrong
You don’t need to inhale a four-egg omlette with a side of whey protein as soon as you’ve completed your cooldown. According to a review published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, your muscle groups are primed for protein for a larger ‘window’ than previously thought. So you don’t need to rush things as soon as you’re out of the showers.
Recommended Reading: Does Special K Protein Bars Make You Gain Weight
Choosing A Protein Plan Thats Right For You
Clearly, the best timing for protein consumption is post-workout. But theres a way to optimize your protein intake to make it work for you.
Heres three things to look for in your protein powder:
Research suggests that consuming protein can help support the immune systemwhich fends off illnesses. Without getting too scientific, avidin is an essential growth and immune cell precursor. Translation? Egg-white protein helps build up your immune system.
But why stop there? Super Greenstypically dark, leafy greens like kale and spinachare immune-boosters and they contain a high level of vitamin C. Adding super greens to your protein shake can greatly enhance your transformation potential. But you dont need to run to the store to bulk up on kale. Instead, try adding a scoop of Super Greens to your post-workout recovery shake.
The quality of your protein powder is just as critical as the consumption of protein. As a rule of thumb: always read the back of the label.
Avoid harmful ingredients like artificial sweeteners or flavors, colors, dyes or additives. Sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, or Acesulfame K are most commonly found in protein powder. You want to avoid those.
Carrageenan is a common additive in protein powders used as a thickener, it comes from a family of red seaweed and has been shown to cause digestive distress, IBS and lesions in the colon.
Tl Dr: What You Need To Know
Post-workout protein powder is a high protein blend of powder that is generally also quite high in carbohydrates in the form of dextrose or some other simple carb. Its carb count is designed to replenish the glycogen levels that have been used up during the course of your workout. Post-workout protein mixtures will contain such fast digesting protein sources as whey in order to fast track their amino acids to the muscle cell.
There are three types of proteins used in post-workout protein powder. They are:
- Whey Protein Concentrate, Isolate or Hydrolysate
- Egg Protein
- Plant-Based Protein
Casein protein is not generally taken as a post-workout supplement because it is a slow-digesting protein that is better suited for use at night time.
When you work out with weights, you cause micro-tears to occur in your muscle fibers. This makes the muscle weaker. When you take protein powder after your workout, you provide your body with the building blocks that the muscles need to repair, rebuild, and regrow your muscle fibers.
Read Also: Isagenix Protein Powder Ingredients
How To Consume Enough Protein
Here are some practical tactics to increase protein intake:
- Eat protein with every meal
- Track your nutrients and weigh your food
- Drink protein shakes and other supplements
- Consume protein from a variety of sources
Every balanced meal has a source of carbs, fat, and protein. If you follow no restrictions, chicken, turkey, and salmon are brilliant sources. In contrast, as a vegan adding tofu or a variety of beans to every meal can help.
Protein shakes and supplements are a viable option for everyone. One to two shakes per day is enough to get your protein up. It is especially helpful if you struggle to consume enough food.
Using apps like MyFitnessPal and digital food scales is useful. If youâre not making progress, it can help you discover whether youâre eating enough.
Itâs advantageous to have a primary source of protein with every meal. Yet, most âhealthy foodsâ are high in protein, so they have more value than junk food. For example, green vegetables like spinach contain lots of protein per gram.
Optimum Nutrition: Gold Standard Whey Protein
Per 30.4g serving: 113kcal, 23.9g protein, 1.8g carbohydrates, 1.1g fat
As the go-to whey protein for many, Optimum Nutritions Whey Protein could be considered as a safe bet. But, how does it stack up? The varieties are all fairly predictable strawberry, vanilla and chocolate so no easy win there. However, the taste of each is as close as youll get without actually slurping a post-gym milkshake . Be careful with your water though, anything more than 250ml per 30g serving will rapidly diminish flavour quicker than most.
There’s a reason why this is one of the world’s most-favoured wheys and is an ideal all-rounder, especially for those looking for something simple and effective for a reasonable price.
Also Check: Is Gold Standard Protein Good
Why You Might Consider A Protein Shake
Let’s be clear: protein shakes are not typically a necessity. “In general, people who eat a wide variety of foods are meeting their protein needs,” Brooklyn-based registered dietitian nutritionist Maya Feller tells Health. “With protein, more does not always mean better.” Different people have different protein needs, and this is something that should be worked out with a doctor. According to Feller, individuals who are particularly active and looking to gain muscle may benefit from a protein shake with 20-25 grams of protein, while those looking to supplement their diet with additional protein can potentially benefit from a shake with 12-20 grams of protein.
Kimberly Gomer, RD, LDN, director of Nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center, stresses that protein shakes should not be consumed as meal replacements with the goal of weight loss. “The only time we say a good quality protein shake is a win is when our client needs immediate repair to their musclemostly a heavier-weight workoutor if someone needs to gain weight,” she says.
But protein alone isn’t enough to refuel post workout. “Carbs and protein are equally important for muscle recovery,” adds Kim Rose, a Florida-based registered dietitian nutritionist. So if you don’t have time for a full meal, try pairing a protein shake with a healthy carbohydrate to balance it out, suggests registered dietitian Lauren Hubert.
Is Chocolate Milk Or A Protein Shake A Better Post
The answer to this question partly depends on your personal preferences. If you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, a plant-based protein powder may be better suited for you. Similarly, if you’re trying to cut down on sugar, you may want to skip the chocolate milk — but beware, many protein powders and premade shakes have sugar in them, too.
Chocolate milk has been proven to contain a near-perfect ratio of protein, carbohydrates and electrolytes to help your body replenish its fuel stores after a hard workout. With 9 grams of protein in a cup, it’s suitable for drinking after both weightlifting and endurance exercise. It also contains potassium and sodium, so it’ll help you rehydrate after a difficult workout.
Even if you’re a weightlifter, chocolate milk as a post-workout drink has been shown to help people grow stronger. Multiple studiesshowed that drinking milk led to greater increases in muscle hypertrophy and lean muscle mass than drinking a standard sports rehydration beverage.
Plus, the cost of high-quality protein powder really adds up. A typical serving of protein powder costs anywhere from 75 cents to $1.31, while a serving of chocolate milk is usually around 25 cents. It may seem like a small difference, but the savings will show over time.
So, next time you’re at the store looking for something to refuel with after your workout, consider skipping the expensive protein powder and go straight for the chocolate milk instead.
Read Also: Shakeology Lawsuit
Is There An Anabolic Window Post
Some people believe theres an anabolic window or limited time period that dictates optimal protein timing post-workout.
For example, you may have heard that you only have 30 minutes to consume a protein shake after lifting, or else your gains will be compromised.
While some research partially supports this idea, none of the studies are particularly strong. Many of them suffer from inconsistencies or other issues.
At the end of the day, the people who make a strong case for a post-workout anabolic window arent doing it on the basis of scientific evidence. That doesnt automatically make them wrong, but they dont have an ironclad argument, either.
Heres our take at Levels: for anabolism , it cant hurt to drink a protein shake within 30-60 minutes of lifting–but dont stress out if you leave your shake at home by accident, either.
Importance Of Daily Protein Intake
Some researchers confuse the importance of daily protein intake and intake of protein around workouts for maximizing muscle strength and size.
Strong evidence favors the fact that daily protein intake is important for improving muscle size and strength, and it does not matter if you are consuming protein also around workouts.
Protein may help increase performance, ameliorate muscle damage, promote euglycemia and facilitate glycogen re-synthesis.
International society of sports nutrition position stand: nutrient timing. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017 Aug 29 14:33. doi: 10.1186/s12970-017-0189-4. PMID: 28919842 PMCID: PMC5596471.
In conclusion, daily intake of protein is more important than consuming protein close to exercise, especially when your objective is to increase muscle size and strength.
Also Check: Does Premier Protein Help With Weight Loss
Side Effects Of Using Post
- Acne Some studies have shown that taking a protein powder supplement may increase the incidence of acne in some people. That is because whey protein powder contains peptides and hormones that have been shown to increase the production of sebum in the body. This oily, waxy substance is linked to acne.
- Nutrient Imbalance A number of dietitians are opposed to protein powders because they provide what they consider to be an imbalance of the three macronutrients. Protein powders are naturally very high in protein content and much lower in carbohydrates and fats.
- Upset Stomach People who are lactose intolerant are likely to end up with gastrointestinal upset after taking a whey protein concentrate, as it does not have the lactose removed.
Types Of Protein Powder
The most common type of protein powder product will create a shake that contains protein and virtually nothing else. These are designed to fuel lean muscle growth following a workout, and so avoid extra carbs and sugars and keep the calories to a minimum to deliver on the lean part.
Mass gainer shakes go in the other direction and contain huge amounts of everything. They are high in calories and carbs as well as having more protein than a standard shake. People tend to use mass gainers during a period of bulking up, usually during the winter before cutting in the spring, a well-worn bodybuilding technique. A mass gainer is useful for those in serious physique training, but less so when youre just aiming for a higher protein intake each day.
Recovery shakes are another common option, and these are aimed more at endurance athletes who need a high amount of carbs and as well as protein to recover after their training sessions. Recovery shakes often also contain vitamins and minerals to support the immune system, and are popular with those who play team sports like football and rugby, as well as among runners, cyclists and swimmers.
Also Check: Bulk Supplements Protein