Protein Shake: Before or After a Workout?
Have you made the decision to get more serious about working out and getting healthy? That is great! Whether you head to the gym or the local park, or even if you start doing some home workouts, getting into an exercise routine is proven to benefit not just your body but also your mind. It’s a win-win!
If you have done any research at all about workout routines, you’ll see a lot mentioned about protein shakes. If you are serious about working out and are going to start (or already) work out heavily at least a few days a week, protein shakes can be a crucial component to add into your routine. But, there is a lot of information out there and sometimes it can be hard to figure out what is right. Most importantly, when should you have a protein shake? Before you workout to prepare your body? Afterward to help recover? And not to mention the endless options you have! How do you choose? We are going to help you answer those questions.
First of all, why is it protein is all workout people recommend? There is a very good reason! As you likely already know, protein is a nutrient that the body needs to survive – whether you are working out or not. It helps your body with a lot of different tasks, like building and repairing tissue, producing enzymes, and also, of course, to help with building muscle. Protein is (or absolutely should be) a major part of your diet.
The main food that people think of when they think of protein is meat, and for good reason. Meat is a good source of protein, but it is not the only source! Especially if you are vegetarian, don’t worry that meat is the only way you can get protein. It is also found in eggs, nuts, oats, cottage cheese, broccoli, peas, lentils, avocado, and a lot more. No matter your dietary restrictions or preferences, you can find foods that are high in protein so that you are consuming the correct amount daily.
So, since protein is so important to have in your daily diet, why should you be worried about having a specific protein shake if you are working out? Read on!
Protein Shakes: Timing and Importance
It’s true if you are serious about working out, protein shakes will become your best friend. As we mentioned earlier, protein helps to build muscle, but another crucial thing it does is help repair muscle. If you are working out hard you may, in fact, be overdoing it and taxing your muscles more than you should. A protein shake will help give your body and your muscles the protein it needs to stay healthy and strong and help recover once your workout is complete.
We’ve mentioned a lot about recovery, so you might be thinking that you should save your protein shake for after your workout. While that isn’t totally incorrect, it isn’t the only answer! In truth, taking protein at different times will simply benefit you in different ways.
After a workout: This is truly the best time and most important time to have a protein shake. Your body has worked hard and needs the protein to help aid in recovery. If you want to stick to having a protein shake just once a day, do it after your workout.
Before a workout: This has its benefits too! Protein can help speed up your metabolism and give you more energy, which is exactly what you want before working out. The added protein can also help prep your muscles so that they are less likely to get injured while working out.
Before bed: One other option you could consider if you are working out very heavily is to have a protein shake before you go to bed (about an hour before you’ll actually go to sleep). Your body already does a lot of ‘repair work’ while you sleep, so if you are looking to really boost your recovery, give your body some more protein to work with while you sleep to really try and prevent any injury and stay in top shape.
How to Choose
Now that you know about the importance of protein and understand the timing, how do you actually get started? What protein should you choose? There are tons and tons of types of protein out there, but based on things like your gender, exercise goals, and dietary preferences, you can pick what is best for you.
Let’s talk about some of the most popular types of protein and why they may be the right choice for you.
Whey: Whey is the most common type of protein and is a really solid choice for just about anyone. This protein is well balanced and will deliver all the benefits you will look for in a protein powder- it has necessary amino acids, it will help repair your muscles, provide energy, and it is easy to find just about anywhere. This is a good starting point for people looking to introduce protein powder into their routine. It is also absorbed and digested very quickly, making it a great choice to have either right before or right after a workout.
Soy: Soy protein is a great alternative protein for those who are vegetarian or vegan and therefore need to have plant-based protein. This is still a great type of protein that has all the amino acids and benefits you would want but works for any type of diet.
Casein: Casein protein is actually the main protein that you will find in milk (yes – milk is a great source of protein!) but the main difference from whey is that it is much slower to digest. If you want something to be quickly absorbed and ‘fast acting’ whey is the way to go (or should we say whey to go) but if you want something slower, casein is an option. If you decide you want to have a protein shake before bed, casein may be the better option as it will work slowly and deliver nutrients all night long as you sleep and recover.
Egg: Ever heard of egg protein? Now you have! While it is lesser known, it is a great protein option to consider if you have any sort of milk sensitivity or milk allergy. Very similar to whey protein, it is a great overall choice and one we would recommend to anyone who has to stay away from dairy.