Get it right and maximise your result
You’ve invested in a quality protein supplement but now what? Are you really getting the most out of it by using it optimally?
Timing over quantity
It’s a common mistake for people to get their hands on some protein powder and then over use it. It can easily add up if you start having protein shakes here and there throughout the day, with the mentality “the more, the better.” However studies have shown that between 20-40g of protein in a shake provide enough muscle building amino acids to support strength and muscle gain, in combination with weight training. Higher doses were shown to have little to no benefit.
Taking this into account, most people actually need much less protein than they may think and the motto shouldn’t be about quantity, but should be “the when, the better.”
So when actually is best?
Following a workout muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein breakdown are stimulated. Without sufficient protein following weight training, there can be little muscle growth.
“If you are using a protein supplement, I would suggest having it immediately post workout, combined with carbohydrates to refuel and repair. This will assist with optimum recovery,” says dietician and FIT Crew member Olivia Bates, who recommends consuming the protein shake within 30 minutes of completing the workout.
Protein is in high demand by your muscles at this time as it is urgently needed for growth and repair, so downing your protein shake in that window allows you to take full advantage of it.
What about other times?
Although within the 30 minute window after your weights session is optimal, there can still be a place for your protein shake at other times of the day or in specific circumstances.
Ideally you should focus on getting your protein from wholefood sources during meals, yet sometimes you need a fast and easy high protein breakfast or snack to tide you over, for which a protein shake or smoothie can work well.
If it’s been three hours or more since your last meal and you are going to do a strength workout, then having the protein shake pre-workout can be beneficial to ensure there are plenty of amino acids available to reduce muscle protein breakdown during your workout. Ideally though, you would consume a protein and carbohydrate meal or snack within three hours prior to working out and save the shake for afterwards.