In gyms all across the globe, you are likely to see the familiar sight of tired athletes, exhausted bodybuilders and those simply trying to gain muscle drinking down protein shakes as soon as their workout is over. It makes sense too – after a workout, you are likely to feel somewhat depleted of energy and such shakes will not only offer the protein needed to build muscle in the wake of a good workout, but they will also often provide other nutrients and energy to help the muscles, and the body as a whole, recover.
Yet, more and more people are starting to switch to pre-workout protein sources to ensure those amino acid building blocks are already in place for their muscles to make the most of a workout. But which is best, and does it really matter so long as you provide your body with plenty of protein?
In some ways it will all be down to personal preference, but in others ways the choice you make could significantly affect your workout. For instance, should you just buy ordinary protein designed to be ingested post-workout, then you are likely to see the best results by drinking your shake after you have sweated it out on the weights. However, there are plenty of protein products actually designed to be taken prior to a workout, and these may help improve results even more.
WHEN TO TAKE PROTEIN
As any gym buff will know, protein is most effective when it is taken as close to a workout as possible. The longer you leave it after a workout to take in protein, the less effect it will have on both muscle strength and recovery time. By taking protein before a workout, the digestion process will be put into action even earlier, ensuring those amino acids are ready to go to work the moment your workout is over.
However, there is more to pre-workout protein than just getting the amino acids ready a little earlier. Pre-workout shakes will also have nutrients and minerals to help boost both energy levels and mental alertness, ensuring that you can go that extra mile during the workout too. In short, your muscles will be fuelled during the workout, not just after.
The muscles will start using the protein as you train rather than afterwards, and there is also a good chance that more calories will be burned as a result too. Furthermore, due to the carryover effect, there will be elevated levels of amino acids both during the workout and after it, not only helping to build muscles more effectively, but also ensuring muscles are less likely to break down after the workout is over.
On the other hand, some people prefer to source energy from glucose prior to a workout, ensuring both energy and hydration are high, and may feel a little bloated if they start a training session with a stomach full of protein. As such, a great deal will come down to personal preference, and many people may simply feel more rewarded when drinking a tasty and nutritious shake after a workout.
The best option is to try both and to see which works for you and your own unique approach to working out. Both will offer excellent results when approached in the correct way, but it may be that pre-workout shakes take the prize when all other preferences remain equal.
About the Author – Adam Howes is a freelance writer, blogger and health fanatic. He regularly contributes articles to health sites, visiting companies such as Optimus Protein to stay up to date with all the latest industry developments.