Use this easy calculator to design the perfect post workout protein shake that will give you the nutrition to help your body recover faster.
Also, learn about the value of a post-workout shake and see what yours should contain!
The Importance of The Post Workout Shake
You may have heard of this concept, but what does it really do? You workout to grow. Cardio improves your cardiovascular health, and resistance training helps you accrete lean muscle mass. More muscle mass means a toned and well-defined physique. It means protection against injury. It means a faster metabolism.
When you resistance train, however, you are actually causing micro trauma to your muscle cells. They are being damaged. A flood of lactic acid builds up, “exhaust” from the muscle engine, causing a “burn”. Blood rushes to provide nutrients and carry away the exhaust, and you feel a “pump”. A few days later, remnants of the destruction that you caused, such as hydroxyproline acid (an amino acid) cause DOMS – delayed onset muscle soreness. It sounds bleak.
One of the key discoveries in recent years is the fact that your body KNOWS it is being abused, and is ready to fix that after you complete a resistance training workout! Your muscle cells become “primed” to receive nutrients. This is an optimal time to consume a nutrient-rich shake, and any supplements you are taking, such as creatine and glutamine. Why a shake – why not a whole food meal? Because, for once, we are in a rush – we want that material to get to the muscle cells, and fast!
A post-workout shake serves many purposes. The proper combination of protein, carbs, and fat will raise insulin levels, which are a signal to your cells to store nutrients. Typically, this can be a bad thing – if your fat cells start their dirty work, you will simply gain mileage on your waist. However, after a resistance training workout, it is your muscle cells that shuffle to the front of the line and gobble up any nutrients that are present!
The Ideal Protein Shake
An ideal post-workout shake will contain quality proteins, preferably branched-chain amino acids that support immune system function. The primary source of this will be eggs, but whey and soy are other good choices as well. It will contain a high level of high glycemic carbohydrate, to stimulate insulin and replace the fuel in your muscle cells. This is the one time that simple sugars work best – because instead of being stored as fat, chances are your body is ready – and will pull them inside your muscle cells! Fat will also increase the insulin response, and healthy fats will provide material to help your body rebuild and recover.
So how much should be in the shake? Based on personal experience, after training many clients, we feel that the best post-workout shake will contain about half of your lean mass in carbohydrate (possibly more if your goal is primarily muscle gain over fat loss).
It will contain 1/3 the amount of carbs as protein, and 1/4 the amount of fat as protein. There are many shakes formulated specifically for post-workout consumption that you might look into. Or, you can create your own –
My Personal Recipe
I use 1 whole banana and 2 scoops of Beverly International’s Mass Maker. Mix this in a blender with a handful of ice and an amount of water based on desired thickness, and you have a whole food shake ready to replenish your exhausted muscles!
Of course, you will have to adjust these portions based on your own amounts. Key in your body weight and body fat, and this calculator will provide what we believe is the optimal post-workout breakdown.
P.S. – the best time to take it? As soon as you can after training! Some people have their shake pre-mixed and down it the second they complete their last set. We prefer to stretch after a good workout, then take advantage of the post-workout nutrition.
Do I Need Shakes Directly After My Workout?
Actually, protein synthesis (hypertrophy/muscle gain) is not a phenomenon that is in any way accelerated immediately after your training, to my knowledge. More happens during your recovery as a response to training.
The only need for protein is simply to replace the branched-chain amino acids that were burned for energy during the session, otherwise they will not be available for recovery.
The post-workout shake is far more important for glycogen replenishment – in other words, it is the quality of carbs after a workout, because there is a window of opportunity to replenish the energy you burned within your muscles. No, protein shakes are not magical.
Taste is an individual thing, but you also get the side effect of high quality protein that is a mix of various types instead of an unbalanced focus on just whey or casein like other companies try to do.
If you have time buy plain protein powder and make your own smoothies with the fruit of your choice and natural Greek yogurt.
Protein supplements can be expensive and many brands are loaded with sugar to make them drinkable. You may be able to save a few dollars and Buy Protein Supplements Online or you can simply use whole foods to up your protein and good carb intake. For instance eating lentils with brown rice becomes a complete protein for the body and is dirt cheap.