Do we need protein right after a training session? Why is it that we see so many people rushing to their shakers after finishing a workout to have a protein supplement? When should you drink a protein shake?
There is a popular belief that protein powder supplement should be ingested right after training. True, but only partially. Even though by doing this we help to reduce muscle catabolism or muscle breakdown, taking it immediately after training is not the best way to go. After reading this article you will be able recognize which of your gym friends know about sports nutrition and which doesn’t. You will notice if they drink their protein shakes immediately after a workout!
“True, but only partially”
Immediately after training the body needs to replenish the depleted carbohydrate storages (muscle glycogen) and NOT protein. Since they are the first macronutrient to be used while training, it needs to be the first one to be replenished. Only after we have addressed to our carbohydrate needs, we can start to think about taking a protein supplement.
So, how do we achieve this?
I recommend consuming a source of complex/simple carbohydrates, taking it immediately after training, even before changing clothes and while still sweating. This way, the first macronutrients that the body requires is provided first hand. By doing this, we ensure that we replenish our blood glucose, muscle glycogen and electrolytes, when they are needed. If we DON’T do this and use only protein instead (like most people do), we are forcing our metabolism to work double time AND we are probably still not giving it the amount and type of energy it needs.
When we drink a protein shake IMMEDIATELY after a workout:
First, out body needs to break down the complex protein that we are ingesting, since today’s protein supplements are quite good and provide a high-quality protein. Once the body breaks down the protein into amino acids, it has to draw upon a not-so-efficient source of energy (amino acids) and convert them to available and rapid energy sources. By doing this, the body actually invests energy to create energy and produces MORE waste products, while only providing a part of the energy we would obtain from carbs (See? Not so efficient, huh?).
What do I suggest?
Immediately after finishing your workout, have a fruit, cereal bar or some sugary-drink. Only after 15 – 20 minutes of doing that, take a protein shake as a post workout protein source. This way, your body will already have covered the carbohydrate immediate need, and use more of the protein shake as it is intended to be, raw material for building muscle and repairing muscle tissue and NOT as a cheap and fast energy source. Don’t throw money away, carbs are way cheaper than protein.
Protein shakes are a really good option to supply a steady amount of protein to the body throughout the whole day, so it is actually better to use them in the times of day when we usually DON’T have a high protein intake, like middle morning and middle afternoon snacks, or as a before bed high protein meal. Think of it as a way to have a high protein meal but none of the fat or hustle that they usually bring.
5 post workout immediate recovery options:
- 02 citric fruits (Mandarins, oranges, grapefruits, etc.) + 01 handful of almonds
- A granola bar w/dried fruits and oats
- Brown bread with marmalade or honey
- 02 highly caloric fruits like a banana, apple, pear or a peach
- 01 cup of whole – wheat cereal & 02 tbsp. of trail mix
Most of the times, simple, practical and real things are the best options for these situations, often better than processed artificial supplements. Remember, I strongly recommend that you consult your doctor/certified nutritionist before taking this or any other supplements.