For years many lifters have followed the ritual of the post-workout protein shake.
It has become so commonplace for individuals to feel like they need this shake that many might actually think you were strange or crazy if you just worked out and then DIDN’T have a protein shake afterwards.
With so many people blindly following the post-workout shake advice, the issue that rises is the fact that most people don't even understand what a post-workout protein shake does or why you even need it in the first place.
What Is The Purpose Of The Post-Workout Shake?
When you weight train, your body burns up stored carbohydrates (glycogen).
Stored glycogen in the muscle pulls water into the muscle, which mediates a greater absorption of nutrients while also increasing muscle volume and fullness.
This is why replenishing your muscle glycogen after you workout is recommended if you want to maximize muscle-protein synthesis. (Building more muscle.)
In addition, when you consume carbs, your body gets flooded with insulin to offset your blood sugar from rising too much. This rise in insulin shuttles nutrients to the muscle more effectively as well.
Therefore when you drink a high quality protein shake after your workout, all of these mechanisms works synergistically with one another to tackle muscle protein synthesis and recovery very quickly.
Post-Workout Sugar And Overdoing It
Theoretically, combining a ton of fast digesting sugar with a ton of fast digesting protein would be the ideal post-workout drink.
For some this works great, however for others, this is a bad idea.
When you consume a bunch of high-glycemic foods, they are digested quicker, but they also leave you far less satiated, meaning that you will get hungry much sooner.
Also, it can be very easy to overdo the sugar, as calories will add up fast in a shake containing a bunch of fruit juices, sugar powders, etc.
You only need around 20-60 grams of carbs post-workout to adequately replenish glycogen stores enough. (Depending on the intensity and duration of your workout.)
There are some guys who pound 150 gram carb shakes post-workout and then walk around sporting a turtle shell for a stomach…it is totally unnecessary.
What Should Be In Your Post-Workout Shake?
Post-workout, you should divide your carb intake in half.
Immediately after you work out you should be having high-glycemic carbs (e.g. dextrose, gummy bears) with 1-2 scoops of a high quality whey protein.
Then after you get home from working out, have the other half of your post-workout carbs in the form of low-glycemic carbs (fruits, oatmeal, yams, pasta noodles, etc.) with a serving of lean protein from a whole food source (chicken, turkey, lean beef, etc.).