What Are Protein Shakes Used For
Protein shakes are made using a protein powder mixed with water or milk, and may include some additional ingredients, like greens, fruit, or nut butter depending on personal preferences. They may also be purchased pre-made and ready-to-drink. Shakes are meant to be supplements, not necessarily meal replacements or staples of a real food diet.
Protein shakes can be made using a variety of powders derived from things like whey and casein , egg whites, pea, hemp, soy, or rice.
While post- and pre-workout protein shakes wont give you six-pack abs, fix your diet, or solve health problems, they may be one way to support your exercise regimen and increase protein in your diet if you use them.
Some people use protein shakes to supplement their diet with protein and calories, for weight or muscle gain. They may also be helpful for those that are super active and need a quick way to get in their protein. The question is, do you really need to drink a protein shake after a workout?
Should You Drink A Protein Shake Before Working Out
While a protein shake is a great way to help your body benefit from your workout by quickly repairing damages done, it is also beneficial before working out.
In order to work out efficiently, you need to have the right amount of energy.
To better understand how protein shakes can benefit you, watch the short video below.
A protein shake is a balanced mix of proteins and carbs, which can help to fuel your body and give you the energy you need in order to sustain a good workout.
If you consume a protein shake about an hour or two before you start working out you will have the necessary energy for a consistent workout.
If you try to get your energy off of sugar fuel, you will not make it through your workout effectively. You need to give your body the right kind of energy so that all of your levels stay consistent.
Instead of a protein shake, you can have a small meal that is made up of protein and carbs.
Unlike in the post-workout meal where fat is detrimental, your pre-workout meal can contain small amounts of healthy fat.
However, the more fat you have in your pre-workout meal the longer it will take for your body to digest what you gave it.
Therefore, you should reduce the amount of fat you consume the closer you get to your workout session so that your body has time to properly convert and utilize the protein and carbs you consume.
Protein Sources To Look For
Your protein sources should also come from a variety of foods with complete and incomplete proteins and adequate amino acid profiles. There are 20 amino acids, and nine are essential, which means we have to get them from food, says Hill. Eleven are non-essential, which means our bodies actually create them.
For complete protein sources , try animal products like lean meats, dairy, and fish, says Hill. For incomplete proteins incorporate beans, nut butters, vegetables, and whole grains. For some healthy snack options, she suggests toast with nut butter, a turkey and cheese roll up, or high protein cereal with skim or one percent milk.
If youre looking for a powder to maximize your complete protein intake, its best to come from animal sources, like whey or dairy protein, says Hill. Whey protein is going to have distinct muscle building characteristics, she explains. It’s also anti-inflammatory, and it helps to turn protein into lean active muscle tissue. For a vegan alternative McPeak suggests pea, brown rice, or hemp protein.
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How To Meet Your Daily Protein Intake
Its more important to focus on your daily protein intake than the exact timing of a protein shake, so its crucial to understand your needs. A woman should really aim for 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per one pound of body weight per day, says Hill. If you are especially active and do power training, heavy lifting, CrossFit, or high intensity interval training , then you should shoot for the higher end of the range. For more endurance folks, protein intake can be around .8 to 1 gram of protein per one pound of body weight, says Hill.
Pro tip: Aim to consume 20 to 40 grams of protein at each meal across three to five meals a day.
And while daily protein is critical, dont skimp on the carbohydrates! The general rule of thumb is to consume a three to one ratio of carb to protein, says Hill. For someone trying to lose weight, they should do a two to one ratio.
If You Decide To Drink Protein Shakes
Still, if you decide that consuming a protein shake before or after a workout makes sense for you, my best advice is to make sure youre choosing a quality protein supplement.
If youre a competitive athlete, its critical to know what youre consuming in terms of ingredients and potential contaminants or adulterants. In addition to being potentially dangerous to your health, these substances can show up in drug testing.
Look for third-party, independent testing seals on products that indicate they have been thoroughly examined to make sure theyre clean and safe for athletes to use. I recommended looking for Informed-Sport and NSF Certified for Sport labels on premade shakes or protein powders you want to use to make your own.
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The Pros Of Protein Shakes
There are some benefits to drinking a protein shake too. Theyre convenient, and if you pick a protein shake that contains whey protein, the amino acids from the protein are absorbed quickly after a workout. Some research suggests theres a window period of about an hour right after a workout where you can optimize muscle repair and growth by consuming protein.
Other research suggests that this window period is longer and you dont have to guzzle down a protein shake right after a workout to maximize muscle growth and repair. Its more the total amount of protein you consume that matters rather than the timing.
Another advantage of consuming a protein shake that contains whey is research shows whey protein can boost immune function. Consuming whey protein may help your immune system function at its peak, even when your muscles are exhausted.
Another advantage of a protein shake is they usually contain branched-chain amino acids Studies show that BCAA turns on the muscle repair machinery by activating a pathway called the mTOR pathway. One BCAA called leucine is vitally important for turning on muscle protein synthesis.
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How Much Should You Take In
The minimum amount of protein that you should take in for building muscle is 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight . Any additional protein that exceeds the daily minimum for muscle gain just helps to speed up the healing process.
Even though there has been debate over a maximum amount of protein you should take in, it is my belief that it is not possible for somebody to take in too much protein, however, if you take in huge amounts of protein it is a good idea to supplement your diet with calcium and magnesium since excessive amounts of protein has been proven to deplete the amount of calcium and magnesium in the body. However, I emphasize high protein ingestion for more than one reason. Not only do muscles require the marvelous ingredient to repair and grow but also three-quarters of the solids in the body are comprised of proteins.
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Need Some Additional Help Determining Your Protein Needs
If youre not sure how much protein to eat, the macronutrient calculator in the V Shred App for IOS or Android can help you set a daily target to aim for. Getting systematic about this one macronutrient can be a game-changer!
And if this is all just confusing to you, or you are unsure if you need to have both a shake and a meal post-lift, youre not alone! Our expert team of certified personal trainers and nutritionists at V Shred can create a custom meal and supplement plan that lays out everything you need to reach your goals faster and easier!
When Is The Best Time For A Protein Shake
Its important to consider the type of workoutand the reasons youre working out in the first placewhen deciding which foods to consume around that workout, says Brian Carson, Ph.D, a senior lecturer and researcher in exercise physiology and head of science and innovation for Whole Supp, a plant-based protein shake company in the U.K. With protein, the aim is to stimulate muscle protein synthesis to maximize muscle growth and strength, he explains, noting that a lot of older research often recommends consuming protein immediately after exercising, which has shown to promote muscle protein synthesis.
However, according to more recent research, drinking a protein shake right after exercise may not be as necessary as previously thought. A small 2017 study on 21 young men with more than one year of resistance training experience examined the importance of post-exercise protein supplementation. For 10 weeks, one group consumed 25 grams of protein immediately before resistance training and the other group consumed the same amount of protein after training. Interestingly, at the end of the study, both groups had similar muscle development results. Researchers thus concluded that the determining factors of protein consumption should depend on an individuals preference, tolerance and availabilitySchoenfeld BJ, Aragon A, Wilborn C, Urbina SL, Hayward SE, Krieger J. Pre- versus post-exercise protein intake has similar effects on muscular adaptations. PeerJ. 2017 1. .
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How Much Protein Do You Need A Day
If youre unsure how much protein you should consume, the National Academy of Medicine recommends that adults consume just over 7 grams per 20 pounds of body weight. But that will differ depending on factors like age, exercise routine and body composition goals.
And most of us arent consuming enough! If you want to build muscle, your protein targets will be higher. A protein shake is a great way to top you up, but as a rule of thumb, your protein sources should also vary and come from a balanced diet where possible.
If youre looking for protein shake recipes, check out this protein shake Chris Hemsworth had on the Thor set
Final Conclusion On When To Take Whey Protein
Whey protein, especially whey protein isolate is the most bioavailable form of protein you can buy and it provides a lot of health benefits in addition to being a great way to make sure you are getting adequate protein each day.
There is little to zero evidence you need to consume it at any particular time with the exception that taking it pre-workout will probably help decrease soreness.
And if you combine it with dextrose and creatine as a pre-workout staple there may be some additional benefits there.
For this reason I personally consume whey protein pre-workout along with both dextrose and creatine and I recommend you do as well.
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Can You Eat Something Other Than A Protein Shake After Working Out
What your body needs post-workout are protein and carbohydrates. You do not have to get this from a protein shake, although a protein shake is one of the easiest and most effective sources of food after working out.
Protein shakes are convenient, so they do not take a lot of effort to make after you are done working out. They also go down easy, especially if you are not feeling hungry after working out.
The main reason a protein shake is a highly suggested post-workout meal, however, is because it is a liquid source of protein and carbs. Liquids are much easier and faster to digest than whole foods so they go right to work helping your body make its needed repairs.
Another reason a protein shake is a good choice is that it is balanced appropriately for a post-workout meal. This means it does not contain fat or other elements that slow down the digestive process, impeding the quick intake of protein and carbs.
Recommended Daily Protein Intake
The recommended daily allowance of protein in adults is 0.36 grams per pound or 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. So, for an average person who weighs 150 pounds or 68 kg, the goal should be 54 grams of protein a day.
But heres the thing.
This is the recommended protein intake for people who dont have a specific fitness goal.
If you want to gain muscle or build muscle strength, then you need to double this amount. So, to grow muscle size and support muscle recovery, a 150-pound or 68-kg individual should consume around 100-120 grams of protein a day.
Of course, professional athletes need an even higher protein intake to keep energy levels up.
Research shows that these folks need anywhere from 1.2 grams to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
Based on our research, women also have different protein requirements. More of that here.
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Human Case Study 2 Carbohydrates Likely Need To Be Taken Before Exercise
Glucose or Dextrose is a specific type of carbohydrate and has a very similar effect in the body to maltodextrin.
The big difference is that maltodextrin is released into the bloodstream at a slower rate so is typically the favorite marathon runners while dextrose tends to be favored by bodybuilders and athletes performing workouts under 2 hours.
In a small, although well performed study on 9 men, using muscle biopsies to test for muscle protein synthesis as well as muscle protein breakdown , researchers found no difference between those who took 25g of whey protein alone and those who supplemented with 25g of whey protein + 50g of maltodextrin after their workouts.
In other words, if you are going to add dextrose or maltodextrin to your whey protein, you need to do it BEFORE exercise not after.
What Are The Benefits Of Protein Shakes After A Workout
I can tell you, without a doubt, that after cycling 139 miles in a day, a protein shake is a great idea. If youre not cycling across Canada for charity though, are there really any benefits to including a protein shake in your daily regime? Can a protein shake after a workout help you build muscle, lose weight, or decrease muscle soreness? Could your choice of protein shake actually undo some of the good work you just put in at the gym?
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Should You Consume Protein Post
Schehr does recommend to her patients that they consume protein after exercising. Here are her typical guidelines:
“It’s generally recommended that post-workout protein be consumed within the first hour after finishing a workout. This varies for men and womenwomen should aim to consume protein within the first 30 minutes, while men should do so within 60 minutes. Ideally, women should aim for 10 to 20 grams post-workout, and men 30 to 40 grams.”
The good news? Your post-workout sustenance can take whatever form you likeyou have tons of options:
- Crackers & cheese
As I mentioned, most of the time I just mix almond milk with a vegan protein powder because it’s the easiest to get down when I’m not hungry. That said, sometimes I’ll make a full-on protein smoothie , which keeps me fuller much longer. If I’m going out to eat or preparing a meal within that first post-workout hour, I make sure it’s full of healthy protein and vegetables. If I’m running around and need something quick, I’ll snag a plain-flavored Icelandic yogurt like Siggi’s or some hard-boiled eggs from a grocery store or salad bar-esque eatery.
Protein Plays A Vital Role In Repairing And Rebuilding Your Muscles Especially After A Tough Workout But Does This Mean You Have To Drink A Shake After Every Lift Or Can You Just Have A Meal Here Is What The Experts Have To Say
Not that long ago, bros in the gym talked about what they called the anabolic window. It was a magical-sounding 45-60 minute space where you had to have a protein shake, or else youd risk your muscles wasting away.
We know better now. Most research has shown that your muscles arent in significant danger if you dont have a shake right away, even if you are doing a tough program like V Shreds Clean Bulk to pack on muscle mass.
But no, that doesnt mean its not a good idea to have protein powder post-workout. Heres your best post-workout protein strategy, no matter if your goal is weight loss or pure muscle gains!
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The Benefits Of Pgx Protein Shakes
Adding PGX singles or powder into your favourite protein drink, or using the convenient PGX protein shakes, is an ideal way to ensure youre getting the protein you need after a workout. A PGX protein shake is also great for when youre eating breakfast on the go between the gym and work as this can help maintain stable blood glucose throughout the morning and keep cravings at bay until its time for lunch. Protein shakes arent a replacement for a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle, but can be a great way to ensure adequate protein intake as part of a balanced diet that include nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes. In addition to being great after a workout, protein shakes are also idea for meeting nutrition needs if you are:
- A growing teenager!
- Starting to work out for the first time
- Increasing the intensity of your workouts
- Recovering from an injury or illness
- Making dietary changes that could compromise protein status
- Looking to reduce overall calorie intake as part of a healthy weight management program
- Doing a ludicrously long charity bike-ride!
Whats your best post-workout tip? Do you have a fantastic recipe for a super-powered protein shake? Let us know in the comments below!