I was really late to the protein shake party (as I am with most things), often scoffing at those who got out the child’s sippy cup full of strawberry flavoured gloop. The boyfriend (long-time weight lifter) first introduced them to me and I reluctantly joined the band wagon. I quickly noticed that I had fewer occurrences of delayed-onsite muscle soreness (DOMS) and now gulping down a cheeky post-exercise protein shake has become something of a religion for me.
But what’s the science behind protein post exercise?
I was lucky enough to work on a really interesting nutrition project last month culminating in a meeting in Hong Kong where I was surrounded by dieticians, nutritionists and geriatricians (doctors specialising in managing elderly patients, who often have nutritional deficits) and one of the key points raised was the importance of consuming protein within 20 minutes of exercise. During this time, your muscle is more able to absorb protein (specifically amino acids) – the building blocks needed for both repair and growth. Providing your body with protein post exercise helps the muscle fibers torn down during resistance training or endurance work to rebuild themselves.
Does it matter in what form the protein comes in?
The protein can come from whole food sources, such as eggs, milk, meat, soy or nuts, but most people opt for protein shakes purely for convenience. I always choose whey (milk) protein-derived protein powder as it’s easier for the muscles to absorb than casein (another protein found in milk).
Which protein powders?
I tend to go for diet/low carb powders to minimise my calorie intake.
My current favourites are:
My Protein Impact Diet Whey in chocolate mint. I mix this half milk/half water and drink within 20 minutes after run. The taste reminds me of my youth – it tastes very much like melted mint Vienetta!
Energy: 817.8 (KJ)
Energy: 199.6 (Kcal)
Protein: 31.6 (g)
Carbohydrate: 8.4 (g)
Fat: 3.8 (g)
Fibre: 4.1 (g)
Also provides per 58g:
Green Tea Extract: 230mg
Acetyl L Carnitine (ALCAR): 290mg
Vitamin C: 50mg
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey in double chocolate, again this is a low carb option and is great for using to make protein brownies as it’s very rich tasting.
Each serving contains 24g of premium whey protein and 5.5g branched chain amino acids, but just 1g of fat, 1g of sugar and 3g of carbs.
Buying a whole container of protein powder can be expensive (£20+) so it might be worth buying small taster sachets to try out first. I have strawberry and vanilla sachets to try – I’ll let you know what they taste like!
Do you drink protein shakes? If so, which ones do you recommend and why?