Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why do you need protein post work-out?

Are you a frequent gym-goer... body attack, body pump, cross training or weights?

To optimise results and recovery after your work-out, you need to make sure you have your nutrition right.

The key nutrient for recovery is protein. Aim for 10-20g protein within 30 minutes of finishing your workout. The benefits of protein work best when coupled with carbohydrate, as carbohydrate stimulates the body to release insulin which improves the uptake of protein into the muscle. The best ratio of carbohydrates:protein is 3:1, therefore ~30-60g carbohydrate.

Good post workout snacks include:
  • Fruit smoothie with berries, 200g low fat yoghurt and 150ml low fat milk and ice (20g protein, 40g carbohydrate)
  • Fruit smoothie with banana, 200g low fat yoghurt, tbsp skim milk powder, low fat milk and ice
  • Glass of milk, apple and 15 almonds (15g protein, 30g carbohydrate)
  • 170g chobani yoghurt and banana (13g protein, 33g carbohydrate)
  • Peanut butter on 4 Vita Weats  

Is there a need for protein supplements?

The use of a liquid protein shake after a work-out is a great, convenient option to ensure adequate protein intake post work-out. But remember, you can get your recommended protein intake using real foods. It is really up to you. Some people who find it difficult to consume a meal or snack post work-out may benefit from drinking a liquid protein shake.

What protein shake is best?

The best protein shake is a whey protein hydrolysate (WPH) shake. This type of protein is the most readily digested and absorbed, but can also be the most pricey.
  • Whey protein - is a 'total' protein, meaning it contains all necessary amino acids. It is particularly high in the branch chain amino acid (BCAA) leucine, an amino acid that stimulates muscle gain.
    • WPC (whey protein concentrate) is derived from the first filtering step in the production of WPI. 70-80% protein by weight.
    • WPI (whey protein isolate) is further filtered, 90% protein by weight.
    • WPH (whey protein hydrolysate) is even more rapidly digested and absorbed.
  • Casein protein - casein is slower to digest as it clots in the acidic environment of the stomach.
  • Soy protein - is also a complete protein and is rapidly digested. Available as both soy concentrate and isolate, soy isolate being a higher % protein by weight. Soy protein is a useful alternative for vegetarians or those allergic to milk protein.
Some protein shakes are chock full of sugar, artificial flavours, sweeteners, carbohydrates and fat. Make sure you look at the ingredients and remember the 'rule of 3'. Choose a protein supplement which doesn't have 'sugar' as one of the first 3 ingredients.

Remember, protein works best when taken with carbohydrate. If your protein shake is low carbohydrate, be sure to eat something containing carbohydrate, such as fruit with it.. or make it on low fat milk!


  1. Thanks for sharing this info, Courtney! I’ve come across a lot of exercise and diet enthusiasts who go on and on about protein but say nothing about other carbs and other nutrients. I think some of them generalize carbs instead of eliminating just the bad sources of it. The body can’t work on protein alone, after all, so thank you again for bringing that to light.

    Erlinda Lilly

  2. Hi Erlinda,

    Thanks so much for the comment. I definitely believe we perform at our best if we include the 3 macronutrients in the diet: protein, low GI carbohydrates and healthy fats! You might like to follow my Facebook page for more nutrition news updates and recipes!

    Thanks again,