Do we need to drink a protein shake or eat protein immediately after our workouts, within a certain “window” of time
“In this series, I’m stripping away the fluff around these nutrition and healthy living myths, dogmas, and practices from reading your submissions to our inbox. Join the conversation and share in the comments why/if you went along with this myth!”
TRUTH BEHIND THE MYTH
Whey protein scoupe. Sports nutrition.Do we need to drink a protein shake immediately after our workouts, within a certain “window” of time?
To be honest, no. However, it may be beneficial on occasion. Let’s have a look at the truth behind this common myth. All too often I see men (and women) have a protein bottle ready to gulp down the second they’ve finished their workout because they are looking to optimise their workouts by getting in protein during this peak “window of time” when our muscles “need” protein. Their intention is spot on, but the questions are: 'is it really needed?' and 'Does it really work?'
There are so many things we need to take consider
I could go on for quite some time here but I presume you are now understanding the questions that first come to mind as a nutritionist! There are far too many options here to easily say no or yes. Your muscle glycogen (i.e. energy stored) contains about 350-500g of carbohydrates which is enough to fuel you through your workouts, training, and plenty for longer endurance sessions like long runs. Most of my clients tend to prefer short training times with high intensity or long training times with heavy weights, So on I would recommend BCAA’s during or straight after workouts because I’m not a huge fan on large pre-workout meals. What about you- think about these questions regarding your workout times and intensity.
There are a huge number of studies that show exercise followed by consuming protein directly afterwards still doesn’t advance muscle anabolism (that basically means building of our lean muscle mass); rather what does help this process is the overall picture of the day and how much protein and fuel we’re consuming through whole foods and also our pre-workout (if available). Let me say that again in a much clearer way ... what you eat post-workout is less important than looking at the context of your entire day, if you’re consuming the right calories and macronutrient goals for the day- not just that 30-60 minute “window”. This “window” is more like 2-4 hours, even 24 hours as one study shows.
And as for our carbohydrate consumption, does that mean we need to gorge on carbohydrates post-workout too? Not necessarily, carbohydrates with protein didn’t change or increase the amount of muscle synthesis (i.e. growth and repair) compared to just protein alone. Does that mean you should just eat protein alone, no but it’s definitely a higher priority in my book. The moral of this myth stripped is to have larger flexibility within the time after your workouts and make it work for your lifestyle. So if you’re able to go home and eat a whole foods meal with roughly 20-40g protein again depending on your goals, if you’re on the go opt for something quick and nourishing like a vegan protein shake.
Just in case you are looking for a protein powder- there’s nothin’ wrong with that! I love using them for a boost of protein during the day or added to smoothies, etc.; be sure to check out my article: Protein Powder, Should You? to find about the one that
I would only ever recommend.
+ Protein, part 1
+ Plant Based Proteins Q&A
+ 10 Plant-based Proteins You Should Be Eating
YOUR TURNHave you ever followed this myth? Do you have friends you know tell you this myth? Leave a comment and let’s chat! And if we’re talking about protein requirements (as in how many grams you need in a day), that’s a whole other
question and I’ll leave that up to any 1-1 chats with me. If you'd like more information about sports supplements and protein powders then please mail me
Your guide to living whole and well. Emma Olliff is a Registered Nutritional Therapist, wellness expert, food lover, and advocate for healthy living!