Post Workout Protein Shakes

“Hey Coach! What should I be taking post workout?”  “Do I really need to have a protein shake? What about carbs?”  “What do you recommend post workout?

I get asked questions like these all the time, and for good reason! The 30-60 minutes following an intense workout is a really important period of time for your body, especially if you’re trying to build muscle.  The simple answer is no fat immediately  post workout; only protein and quick digesting carbs.

Protein It probably comes as no surprise that resistance exercise like CrossFit and weightlifting has a big impact on muscle growth and development.   But did you know that muscle growth only happens when muscle protein synthesis (the cells rebuilding) is greater than muscle protein breakdown (cells breaking down in a workout). To speed the muscle recovery process and facilitate muscle growth (e.g., gains), it’s important to consume protein that digests quickly so it can get to your muscles fast where the shift from muscle breakdown to muscle growth is happening.

Carbs So we need protein to feed our muscles, but what’s the deal with carbs, right? Generally speaking protein mixed with some quick digesting carbohydrates can increase muscle anabolism (growth), leading to faster recovery from each day’s exercise so that you can hit the next day’s workout with as much intensity as you did the day before. Taking protein by itself is good, but taking protein with a fast digesting carb is even better. Why? If you were starving for a meal, would you want to ride a bike to get to the nearest restaurant or drive a Ferrari? Post workout, your muscles are starving for protein so they can rebuild and grow. High quality fast digesting carbs are the Ferrari for the protein. If you were to take protein by itself, think of it as being better than nothing at all, but paired with the right carb, now that’s cooking with fire! What qualifies as quick digesting carbs? Baked sweet potatoes are great but not always ideal post workout so I often opt for really ripe bananas (the browner the better, more glucose!) or baby food pouches of fruit purees. There are also very high quality carb supplements such as Vitargo or multi cyclic dextrin that are very handy for the post workout shake. (Last week we went over smart snacking options, and I mentioned that for weight loss, you don’t want to be snacking on fruit all the time. However, post workout is the best time for a piece of fruit!)

What about Fat? Skip the fat! When trying to lose weight or stay lean its best to keep your fat consumption to a minimum for about an hour post workout. So, pizza would be a really bad choice immediately post workout if you’re trying to avoid weight gain. Using our Ferrari example above, fat would be like a 4 car pile up on the 405. Fat slows down the entire digestive process, making it difficult for those crucial proteins to find their way to the muscles that are starving!

Getting the Right Combination Quality counts and the recipe for success is different depending on the type of exercise. Lets say all we did today was a 1 rep max back squat; the requirement of carbohydrates would be about equal to protein so a shake that was equal parts protein and carb would be ideal. Then the next day we have a crazy hard cellular workout (burning, lots of lactic acid) like Fran, :30 assault sprints or even a longer bout such as Cindy; then we would want a higher ratio of carbs to replenish the muscle glycogen used for that activity. I’d suggest a 2:1 carbs to protein ratio for something like that.

Quality Counts Just like everything that goes in your body, quality here is important. You wouldn’t fuel up a Ferrari with bargain basement fuel would you? The supplement industry is highly unregulated, which means they don’t have to tell you everything that is used as an ingredient. This is why I only use products like SFH and Vitargo where the ingredients are transparent, the product is independently tested, listed ingredients verified, and the product is of high quality.

Some of my go to post workout shakes include:

SFH + Vitargo 1 scoop of Vanilla SFH 1-2 scoops of Tropical Vitargo

Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie In a blender combine: 1 scoop Chocolate SFH Protein Powder 1 scoop Organic Peanut Flour 1 small banana 1 cup of water or Almond Milk Handful of Spinach

Snacking Smart

I don’t know about you, but between breakfast and dinner most days pass by in a whirlwind leaving us little time throughout the day to eat. Enter smart snacking! It doesn’t matter whether you’re paleo, gluten free, keto, low carb, low fat, or vegan, the key to staying on track with any diet or nutrition plan is preparation…. and snacks! We all know that a “quick trip” anywhere can easily turn into a half day adventure, and what happens when you get hungry? There are very few options out there for quick quality food, let alone something that fits within your nutritional plan.  That’s why it is so important to always travel with snacks (and water)! Snacks, don’t leave home without em! Here’s why:

  • You’ll stay on track with your nutrition
  • You won’t have to sacrifice quality because you’re starving
  • You won’t have to disrupt your day searching for a Whole Foods to get something wholesome and nutritious

All it takes is a little planning, and these days with online shopping, it really couldn’t be easier to stay stocked up. (However, if you’re in a pinch and need to get some fast food, I recommend Burger Lounge or Chipotle; you can still make smart meal choices, calculate macros, and their food is responsibly sourced. Additionally, here are some of my favorite go to snacks:

  • Papa Steve’s No Junk Protein Bars
  • Perfect Bars
  • Oh My Bars
  • New Primal Jerky
  • Wild Friends Vanilla Almond Squeeze Pouch With Protein
  • Artisana Organics Raw Cashew Butter Squeeze Pouch
  • Trail Mix (without added sugars)
  • Organic Baby Carrots

Be careful not to load up on fruit. Fruits are easy to eat on the go (and delicious), but for many people (especially those wanting to lose weight or get lean) they don’t make for a wise snacking option. If you’re prepared to face the day with healthy snack options, then you’ll be less likely to give in to temptation or eat something that doesn’t support your health and fitness goals. Stay healthy friends!