When Should I Take My Protein Powder?

When Should I Take My Protein Powder?

Aug 27 2015 0 Comments Tags: Diet, Nutrition, Protein, Supplements

So, you’ve done your research and brought home a tub of high-quality protein powder. What now? Figuring out the best times to supplement can be difficult. Here are the two most common uses for protein powder during the day and specific applications for each.

1. Meal Replacement

When you’re rushing out the door late for work in the morning, the last thing you have time for is to make a quick breakfast to kickstart your day. That’s one scenario where protein shakes can come in handy. In general, St Pierre recommends adding in a source of vegetables, a serving or two of fruit and some healthy fats alongside a scoop or two of protein powder. In fact, he and the team at Precision Nutrition have coined a term for these massive meal-replacers — “super shakes.” These shakes can be used in place of a meal or in addition to a regular meal when trying to gain weight. Here’s their recommend recipe for both men and women:

Men
2 scoops of protein powder
1-2 cups of vegetables (like spinach, which doesn’t affect the taste)
2 handfuls of fruit (fresh or frozen)
2 tablespoons of healthy fat (a nut butter or seed for example)
Mixer (almond milk, regular milk, water — your choice)

Women
1 scoop of protein powder
1 cup of vegetables
1 handful of fruit
1 tablespoon of healthy fat
Mixer (almond milk, regular milk, water — your choice)

These recipes bring up another topic of concern — gender differences. Workout supplements are often viewed as a male-dominated industry, but protein powders are also effective for women. St. Pierre points out, however, that women have different nutritional needs than men. In general, they need less protein per pound of bodyweight (primarily due to differences in body composition). For that reason, St. Pierre initially recommends for females to use one scoop instead of two. However, he’s quick to admit that the “cut in half” lesson isn’t the definitive solution. “It’s not that women need exactly half as much as men…Ultimately, it’s just giving you a framework to start something. You can adjust it from there based on your needs,” says St. Pierre.

Gender differences aside, if these shakes are so nutrient-dense, why shouldn’t you just blend up a shaker bottle for each meal and ditch cooking (and dirty dishes) for good? St. Pierre cautions that although the shakes are great, they still aren’t the same as whole food. “There is more nutrients inherent to whole foods then there ever will be in a powder,” he says. You can also sometimes lose nutritional value drinking your nutrients and vitamins instead of eating them. For that reason, he recommends supplementing with no more than two shakes in one day (even that is pushing it). The key is to use shakes in a pinch and rely on whole food sources for the rest of your meals.

2. Post-Workout

With the advent of the post-workout window — a thin slice of time to intake nutrients after a workout for the biggest benefit — protein shakes and shaker bottles became a necessity for a gym trip. If you didn’t slug a shake before you walked out the door, the notion went, you were compromising recovery time and crippling the benefits you could reap from your workout. Protein supplementation post-workout has been shown to be beneficial, particularly in helping individuals recover after a tough session and potentially increase muscle and strength gain. St. Pierre acknowledges that post-workout nutrition is important but not as much as you may have previously thought. “Basically, it’s not a bad thing to have a shake right after you work out, but you don’t have to,” he explains. “Don’t drive yourself crazy thinking that you’ve wasted a workout because you didn’t have a shake right after working out.”

So, how should post-workout shakes fit into your nutrition? It’s really up to personal preference. Previously, protein shakes were thought to digest faster in the stomach than whole foods providing muscle-building nutrients to the recovering muscles quicker. St. Pierre explains that new research indicates this isn’t the case. Now, he advises clients use whatever is most convenient. “If you want to have a shake, that’s cool. If you want to make a whole food meal, that’s more than OK, too. Either approach is valid, so it’s personal preference,” says the coach. Stomach sensitivity may also play a role as well. Some individuals have a harder time taking in whole food directly after a workout. In those cases, a shake would be a proper substitution to get in a quick dose of protein.

Protein powders have seemingly become a necessity for an active lifestyle right alongside high-tech fitness trackers and cutting-edge footwear. Although protein shakes may be a convenient way to take in calories, it doesn’t mean that they’re always the best option. Whole food sources are still your best bet for getting vital nutrients. The takeaway is to build your diet with a base of solid food and use protein powder as a — you guessed it — supplement when it’s healthy and convenient.

via: [Jeremy DuVall cc DailyBurn]

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