Michael Hull – HealthGreatness
If you were to ask the internet about post workout nutrition you may get the following response: “You MUST consume a protein shake within 30 minutes of your workout ending or all of those gains will disappear.” Luckily, the internet isn’t always right. A recent study took a look at if a protein supplement consumed in the window before or after a resistance training session, often called the peri-workout period, would result in greater increases in muscular strength and hypertrophy. The researchers found that protein timing had little to no effect on muscular gains. However, as with all studies, there are caveats and nuances to be discussed.
The studies analyzed in this study were done mostly on untrained men. If you have never been on a workout program before, chances are that you are going to see big results in your first few months if you remain dedicated to your program. These large improvements may have over-shadowed the researchers’ ability to see any potential small effects protein timing may have had in a more well-trained population. There is a small possibility that for experienced exercisers, a tiny but positive effect may be seen with the long term use of protein timing. Timing your protein supplement may also be of greater importance to those on the higher end of the exercise continuum.
For people like your NCAA Division I athlete who is working out twice a day it may be necessary to time protein (and carbohydrate) intake around their workout period. Furthermore, that protein ingestion window is probably much larger than previously thought. The study concluded that “if a peri-workout anabolic window of opportunity does in fact exist, the window for protein consumption would appear to be greater than one-hour before and after a resistance training session”. This should be a comfort to those who like a little more flexibility in their diet.
One final caveat is that your post-workout shake becomes even less critical if you have consumed a protein-rich meal 3ish hours before your workout. This is known as the “carry over effect”, as there will still be sufficient amino acids floating around in your bloodstream to help assist your body in muscle protein synthesis.
So should you stop consuming your post-workout shake? Not necessarily. It may not be doing what you thought it did but if you are in the habit of chugging down that shake post-exercise feel free to keep it up. There doesn’t appear to be any harm to it and that habit may be helping you meet your daily protein intake; which currently seems to be of greater importance.