As we all know, it’s important to take protein supplements if you want to build muscle. Many people, however, don’t realize is how important it is to consume protein immediately before and after workouts.
Before workouts your body uses the amino acids in protein to keep your body in an anabolic state while you’re working out. Branched chain amino acids have been proven to ward off soreness when taken before and during workouts. One scoop of protein powder usually has around 5 grams of branched chain amino acids. After workouts your body goes into a state of recovery. If you don’t get the necessary nutrients, upon completion of your workout, muscle growth is put to a halt. Instead of muscle growth, you’ll get muscle breakdown.
Before your workouts a protein drink low in sugar, carbs and fat is good. This way your body will have what it needs without too many calories to burn off. You don’t want to workout with a stomach full of carbohydrates because your body will have no chance to burn fat this way. Not to mention, you’ll probably get a side ache. A high quality RTD (ready to drink) protein shake is a fast and easy way to get the pre-workout nutrition you need, on the way to the gym.
Protein, on its own, is appropriate for pre-workout nutrition, however, post-workout nutrition requires carbohydrates as well. Carbohydrates, when taken post-workout, helps restore your body’s glycogen levels. Glycogen is your body’s stores of carbohydrates, that are used for energy. During workouts these stores are depleted. Carbohydrates also spike your insulin levels. When insulin levels are high, cortisol levels are low. Cortisol is a hormone that breaks down muscle and converts it into energy. High cortisol levels are never a good thing when you’re trying to build muscle.
For this reason, you can use chocolate milk after workouts. It contains both casein and whey protein with simple sugars. Milk is 80% casein protein and 20% whey protein. Whey protein is a fast acting protein, while the casein protein is slowly absorbed by the body. For this reason milk, on its own, is a good post-workout drink. Even though chocolate milk is just milk with chocolate syrup added to it, the simple carbohydrates cause the insulin spike that can be beneficial post-workout. Not to mention its delicious. Another option is to make your own protein shake with a high-quality protein powder.
When to take Pre-Workout and Post-Workout Drinks
It is best to get your pre-workout and post-workout nutrition within 30 minutes of your workout. If you wait any longer than that are not getting the full benefits of your protein drink. Even though pre-workout and post-workout are the most important times to focus on your nutrition and protein intake, you must make sure you are always supplying your body with these things. Recovery from a single workout can last 3 to 4 days and sometimes even longer. If you deny your body the nutrition and protein in needs during this period, the muscle building process is quickly put to a stop.