I encourage our Singapore personal training clients to be sceptical of the claims of supplement manufacturers. These claims are often overstated. Or sometimes even totally untrue!
Sufficient protein definitely helps with the repair of muscles. There are many studies to show that this is the case. Such as the one below.
Muscle repair and growth are the result of your body being able to build new muscle faster than it is broken down. Sufficient protein is definitely needed for this to happen.
What is not so clear is the importance of the timing of the protein intake. Does it really matter if it’s eaten immediately after the workout? The research on this is not conclusive.
For example, if you eat a steak a few hours or even the day before the workout and it is being digested. Those amino acids (protein broken down in our digestive system) are entering your body as your workout ends. This would have a similar effect to drinking a fast-digesting protein supplement at the end of your workout. Also, our body has amino acid pools that are available as long as we consistently eat enough protein daily.
So how amazing your protein shake is, depends on what you had for dinner last night!
If you ate only rice and fruit, and you ate an early dinner. Then yes, it’s likely a protein shake would probably be helpful. But if you had a late last meal with meat in it, and ate enough protein for the past few days… then a protein shake immediately after training probably isn’t hugely different from one a few hours later.
So in my 15 years of coaching experience, what seems to matter most for recreational athletes, or regular people is the total amount and quality of protein eaten over the day or week. Rather than the specific time of the protein intake.
As long as you eat about 0.7g per lb of body weight of protein each day you should have enough to maintain and build muscle. So a 150lb (65kg) man would need about 110g of protein which is a few eggs and 3 palm-sized servings of lean meat per day.
So your protein shake’s main benefit is not “Super-duper-muscles”. It is convenience. Which allows you to eat enough protein on a daily basis. Even if you are too busy to cook or get healthy food.
But there is one nutrient that is well studied to help your recovery from training…carbohydrates.
If you train really hard or train more than once per day, then carbohydrate becomes very important. I usually suggest carbohydrates in the form of something easy to digest like fruit juice. Add some salt to help absorption. It is helpful for recovery when taken immediately or even during workouts. They speed up recovery in almost all cases and reduce the overall stress burden of the workout allowing you to train more often.
Carbohydrates that digest fast will prevent muscle glycogen from getting too low which speeds up recovery. And lowers the overall stress of the workout. This is especially important if you already have a lot of other lifestyle stressors already.
In the end, all studies and suggestions are just guidelines. Everyone has a different response to different supplements. So even a “well researched” supplement may have TOTALLY NO EFFECT on you.
That’s why the key is to try things out for yourself.
Try protein shakes for a month after every workout. Then one month without – while still eating the correct amount of daily protein.
The next month try some carbohydrate drinks (about 30g sipped during workouts) and see how you feel.
If something is working to boost your recovery, you will notice less soreness the next day, and increased speed of increasing strength and endurance in your workouts. Also, you will be able to repeat a workout more frequently without losing performance.
We are all different, so there is some trial and error involved in every person’s fitness journey. That’s why the Genesis Gym Singapore personal trainers are here to help. Our goal is to use science, and experience (over 1 million hours of date from recorded coaching sessions) to help you reduce time spent and errors made so you can reach your fitness goals in a consistent and healthy way. Check out our personal training rates and programmes to find out more.