A common question that is asked a lot has to do with pre-workout versus post-workout nutrition. Ideally you want to make sure you are maximizing your nutritional intake on both ends of your workout to get the greatest benefit from that workout. As protein shakes are often one of the best ways to ingest nutrients into your body, many people want to understand whether it is better to drink a protein shake before or after a workout.
Protein Shake Benefits
Protein in shake form is easily absorbed into your system. The liquid form (either with milk or water) allows faster digestion with nutrients getting into the bloodstream much quicker than solid counterparts. Additionally you can utilize whey protein which is the most optimum form for your body. Also shakes provide an easy option to add additional supplements such as Creatine or branch-chained amino acids (when in powder form).
Some people enjoy protein shakes as meal replacements in the morning and before bed as well as around workout time. They are a great source of protein and simple to prepare.
The main goal before a workout is to ingest things that your body will use immediately. You want to have the proper stores of energy and building blocks available so that when your body starts breaking down during the workout process it has what it needs on hand to immediately keep you going.
The top pre-workout supplements are:
You will notice that this list does not include general protein. BCAA’s and Taurine are both amino acids but they can come in a pill (or gel-cap). The amino acids are broken down and used as needed by your body during breakdown and in muscle contractions. Caffeine helps with stamina and blood flow while Creatine helps deliver energy within the body. But generally speaking protein isn’t needed. The fruit is for energy during the workout.
After a workout you need building blocks to replenish your body, help with the repair process, and have necessary nutrients to create bigger and stronger muscles. That means protein among other things.
The top post-workout supplements are:
- Branch-chained amino acids
Ideally you want to consume protein within 30 minutes of finishing a workout to ensure the building blocks are there. BCAA’s are helpful but not as essential. Dextrose helps replenish glycogen stores immediately and the anti-oxidants reduce muscle stress and hasten the recovery process. In a perfect world you get home from the gym and drink a nice, rich shake along with any supplements you need to ensure your body wastes no time getting into recovery mode.
As you can see the answer to whether you should take a protein shake before or after a workout is rather simple; after is always better. While having additional protein in your system is never a bad thing, it is less necessary to the body’s needs before a workout compared to afterwards.