I am not one of those guys that is going to confuse you in response to the ongoing question; are protein shakes good for you. All I wish to do here is give you the lay of the land by stating the bare facts. Of course, I am no expert on the matter, so the easy to follow information I am presenting to you here is based on that presented to us by the nutritional experts who also, through practical experience, have an acute understanding of what goes on in the minds and bodies of those of us who need to work those muscles out in the gym.

Taking protein shakes after the workout

The popular practice has been to utilize protein shakes after the workout. But the facts bear this out; it is entirely unnecessary.

Of course, the popular consensus is not wrong. There is a window that starts around thirty minutes after your body’s muscles have completed the strenuous cycle of lifting weights. Because the body is drained of its resources during the workout, the protein buildup process needs to start again as soon as possible.

While weight or strength training, damage is still being done to the muscles. Small tears to muscle tissue occur. But it does also stimulate the necessary growth. Muscles are able to repair its damage. But to do this optimally, it requires amino acids – building blocks of protein – and carbohydrate fuelled energy.

Protein build-up before the workout

In case you are wondering why you sometimes feel so tired before you actually start working out; here’s why. It should go some way in helping you to better appreciate how to utilize protein shakes all round.

I also appreciate why so much emphasis has been placed on chugging down protein shakes so soon after a workout. The body has exhausted all its essential hormones and nutrients usually used to sustain itself during strength required exercises and physical exertions for prolonged periods of time.

A minimum of twenty to thirty grams of protein in your shake is required directly after your workout. This should entail more than one full glass mixed with water or milk (or any other vegan alternative). But the modus operandi remains on being focused on how much protein you are consuming during other parts of the day, particularly before you expect to be lifting weights.

Consume protein every four hours

Your body needs to consume protein throughout the day.

Spacing it out consistently throughout the day ensures that your muscle glycogen levels, derived directly from carbohydrates, are never drained. Keeping a good stock of carbohydrates and protein in your body long before your next workout ensures that there are no deficiencies and there is less likelihood of suffering from burnout.

Apart from protein shakes and protein intake during the main meal of the day, a lot of physically active people under-appreciate the need to consume protein throughout the day. Lighter meals that contain skin and fat free chicken or tuna are ideal fillers.

What happens for the rest of the day is vital

If you can excuse the pun, the rest of your day also includes those days when you take time off from the gym (and should be so as not to suffer from burnout) and those hours when you hit the sack (go to sleep, in other words).

Throughout the day the muscle protein building window stays open. By staying true to the minimum intake of twenty to thirty grams of protein ever three to four hours throughout the day you ensure that your body gets its share of the daily recommended dosage.

And just remember that this does not mean taking protein shakes every other hour. Your body still needs its fill of other essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins which shakes cannot (or do not) hold.

Take protein even when you are not working out

Just because your body is perceptively at rest, does not mean it is time to give your protein intake a break too. No, that process must continue.

The advice is to continue with your protein consumption as normal and as recommended. This is even the case when you have decided to give your body a break for an entire week, say after a major competitive event. The muscle repair, recovery and growth process does not last just for those few vital hours after your last workout.

It goes on for days. This is why you sometimes don’t feel any muscular pain after a major event until two days later. The reverse of all of the above is that your protein synthesis continues to decrease and debilitates your body’s ability to repair damaged muscles and continue with its necessary growth.

And in saying all of the above, there are over all lessons you can take home with you tonight. If you are working out on a regular basis, your protein and carbohydrate intake needs to continue without exception. Rely on protein shakes; by all means, but just remember that your daily nutritional requirements should never be neglected. Your body’s muscles are not the only things that need food during the day.

You also need to look after your digestive system. And then there is your brain food. I would assume that you are still working for a living during those hours you are not working out.