Post-Workout Recovery: Crafting Your Optimal Post-Workout Protein Shake

Recovering from your workouts is the surest way to make sure that you are ready for your next workout since training consistency is the greatest success factor in any training program. Giving your muscles immediate nourishment is an essential practice that will improve the quality of your training and life in general. Sometimes knowing what kind of nutrition to give your muscles can be a complicated task since daily routines and training times throughout the day can differ greatly from person to person. Knowing what to put into your protein shake to meet your nutritional needs isn't an exact science, yet attempting to master this knowledge can benefit you greatly. Let's look at some of the factors at play here:

1. Work load for the rest of the day
2. Level of fatigue
3. Amount of time until your next meal
4. What you've eaten so far today

For general purposes, always take a 24 gram scoop of whey protein after your workout, within thirty minutes, to get the most recovery out of that scoop of protein. After thirty minutes, it absorbs only about half as well, which is why the timing is important. Following that, consider the following guidance on how to ensure the best results from a post-workout protein shake.

1. When considering how much work you have left in the day, are you going to be standing or sitting? Is your work physically oriented? Do you have nothing but free time after your workout?

*If you have a long day of hard, physical work ahead of you consider mixing a type of protein called casein protein into your workout shake. It will release protein slowly, over up to eight hours, after you take it.

*If you have an hour or two (or three) before you start work, adding an additional amino acid to your protein shake can provide valuable recovery potential to your post-workout shake. Branch chain amino acids (BCAA's) and other types of amino acids such as silk amino acids (SAA's) and essential amino acids (EAA's) provide faster, more complete muscle recovery when taken alongside protein. Generally speaking, BCAA's have the best reputation for muscle recovery. Some silk amino acid products have made it to market but didn't have the commercial success that BCAA's enjoyed. Do not take that for a testament to their efficacy, SAA's are excellent recovery products. Make sure you do not neglect to take your protein, as that is still the most important factor to muscle recovery.

2. How tired were you when you woke up this morning? Was it because of muscle fatigue? Are you still feeling that fatigue after your workout?

*If you answered yes to any of these questions, then consider eating a full meal after your workout. Taking your whey protein shake is still very important here because the speed at which whey protein breaks down in the digestive tract while food can take an hour or two to get to your muscles. Fatigue is a problem that only increases over time. Taking steps to remedy the issue on a continual basis is the only way to manage your fatigue. If you have the time to, take some time to rest after your meal to let your body focus on digestion.

*Taking an additional protein shake sometime in the day can remedy your overall fatigue, given that the time you take it falls between meals or other protein shakes. Whey protein is good for this kind of midday meal, however casein can be the better choice, especially if you know you are going to take longer to have your next meal.

*Sometimes having extra, smaller meals can make a big diference in your day. Protein shakes, protein bars, or a small burger from your local fast food establishment can be suitable meals to supplement your day.

3. How long after your workout are you planning to eat a meal?

*In a perfect world, you should be taking one scoop of whey protein and then getting a full meal immediately afterwards; the whey protein takes care of your immediate protein needs since it acts very quickly in the digestive tract and the meal takes care of your long term needs since it will be reaching your muscles a few hours down the line. Fortunately, there are enough tools in your standard sports supplement store to provide an appropriate nutritional bridge to ensure your muscles receive proper and consistent nourishment throughout the day.

*If your next meal is more than an hour from your workout, consider taking half a scoop of casein protein to your scoop of whey protein to ensure your muscles are fed until you can get to your next meal. If your next meal is more than two hours away, take a full scoop of casein protein in your post-workout protein shake. If your next meal is more than three hours away, go ahead and mix in a source of fiber, such as oat bran, steel-cut oats, flaxseed meal to extend the absorption window for your protein shake.

4. How much protein have you eaten throughout the day so far?

*If you include high-quality protein in each of your meals on a daily basis, then you an cut down the dose of post-workout protein, given that you are planning to intake more high-quality protein in a short time frame. When protein digests, it enters the bloodstream as free-floating amino acids that travel to your damaged muscle tissue and get to work repairing your damaged muscle fibers. If your serum amino acid levels (the amount of free-floating amino aids in your bloodstream) are plentiful, then you might not be able to properly utilize all of the protein you consume post-workout.

*By reducing the amount of protein you take in after your workout following a large meal, you can make your protein dollar go a little bit further. It's very important to get adequate protein post-workout, yet if you are taking in amounts that don't get utilized, then it becomes waste.


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