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Post Workout Protein Power!

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Woohoo, tangent time

After yesterday’s post about building muscle as quickly as possible. We got a couple of responses asking about the magical post-workout shake.

Is it some magical formula? If I miss my 30 minute window do I lose all of my gains? Does it have to be a shake? Why not just water? The list was pretty exhaustive.

So, like a loose thread on your favorite sweater, that’s unravel this thing a little bit, just carefully.

I remember when the concept of nutrient timing was first brought up in the personal training and fitness community. It seemed like it was going to be the next big thing. you can move all of your meals around as long as your workout window was locked in. Make sure that you had things lined up prior to, and slam a high quality liquid meal immediately afterwards. It was going to accelerate your growth and your recovery better than anything ever had.

I remember going out of my way to structure my post-workout shake so that it matched the recommendations of top influencers. at the time, I’m pretty sure this came from magazine articles or early internet forums that managed to get their hands on some of the research.

So like everything, we went crazy with it. We all tried different combinations, different types of protein, different types of carbohydrate, and as it turns out there were some that worked better than others. but this is where things start to get a little sticky.

Did it work? Yes, it sure did. High quality food and supplements will always do a good job when taking appropriately, but was it magical? Probably not.

I think it’s easier to look at it like this, if you have your food and training so dialed in, that you need to be painfully Neurotic about when you get your workout nutrition in, then go ahead. If you’re a top level athlete, bodybuilder, or just robotic in your daily schedule, then that’s fine it’ll work for you. But what seems to be more important is your total protein intake, spaced evenly throughout the day.

Protein is the one nutrient that we don’t really have a storage mechanism for. We can store carbohydrate, we can store fat, vitamins, minerals, but not protein. So we have to get protein in in doses throughout the day. Realistically, if you had lunch at 12:00 p.m., trained at 3:00 or 4:00 p.m., and they didn’t get food into you until 6:00, that’s not ideal. In that case a post workout shake might be better. but you don’t have to be one of those guys carrying your powder in a shaker cup around the gym with you to immediately fill up and slam as soon as the last set of bench press is done for the day.

Pre and post workout supplements have a roughly similar effect on muscle growth, so realistically, just keep getting protein into you regularly during the day.

Now, a second tangent. Weight training is hard on the body, it causes us to go into a state of muscle breakdown, and ideally if we’re looking to put on muscle mass and lose fat, we want to get out of that state as fast as possible. Research is pretty clear, Getting food into you is very important as quickly as you can. Although the quality is not nearly as critical. protein and carbohydrate mixed together are your best option, but a good protein supplement will do as well, a straight carbohydrate drink also had a decent effect. so if you want to make this more simple let’s look at it this way.

If you have “taking nothing after workout” way down here at the Left end of the graph, and you have the gold standard protein and carbohydrate drink way over here at the right. then a good old-fashioned can of Coca-Cola sits somewhere around here.


So get your food in. Make sure your post workout nutrition fits within your plan. Don’t have a plan? Have a coach!

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