As a coach I get asked a lot about supplementation, especially protein shakes. There are literally 1000's of protein products on the market, and to the uneducated consumer, who have recently started their new healthy lifestyle it is hard to distinguish among the products that are most effective to accomplishing your personal goals.
The first thing that you must understand is that nothing beats food. With most of my clients who always on the run with work or kids activities I get many excuses as to why they are not seeing results. Some might blame the coach, but we all know better than that right? This is where protein shakes come in as a 'supplement' to a an individual's diet. I always stress the 3 most important meals of the day to a strength athlete or anyone trying to become leaner and perform better are breakfast, post-workout and before bed. For purposes of this blog post we will assume protein shakes will be our only option. Again I want to be sure that you, the reader understands that laziness to cook food is an unacceptable and after reading this first paragraph, if you are still too lazy to prepare a shake you should probably just stop reading now.
1. Breakfast is the meal that gets our metabolism back on track after starving ourselves all night with sleep.Sleep is very important, During sleep our body rests and recovers from daily stresses, repairs torn micro muscle fibers from effective workouts. The energy required to perform these repairs comes from your nutrition. If the body spent 8 hours repairing itself, it is likely that our body is also needing to refuel to continue not only repairing muscle, but also being able to perform everyday tasks and to ensure proper brain function. That is why if we are wanting to be lean and ready to seize the day, it is essential to get in a balanced breakfast of moderate to high protein, moderate carbs and healthy fats.
Protein recommendation: Whey, Casein, Whey Blend (mix of proteins such as egg, beef, whey, casein, etc.)
*These proteins are also great when you cannot eat whole foods; solid meal replacement here if needed
2. Post-workout is the time our body needs the most assistance in recovery from tearing up muscle fibers and pushing our mind and body to the limits. Thinking that to get leaner, you need to cut out calories wherever possible is erroneous when it comes to post-workout nutrition. You have lost a lot during the workout, now replenish it. We have a 'window' of time to maximize our recovery of 25-35 minutes after completing a workout, so be sure you prepare ahead of time to bring your shake to the gym with you or keep a container in your car so it is always with you. It is essential to get protein in our system as quickly as possible. Therefore we need a protein that is faster acting than our breakfast protein.This shake will consist of high quality, fast digesting protein. I prefer to look for products that have 25g+ protein per serving, minimal carbohydrate and minimal fat. We can always have a meal when you return home an hour or two later with healthy carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes or rice to replenish our glycogen in the muscles. Your shake and meal should be very low fat. Fat will slow digestion and as I stated previously we want to get protein to the muscles as fast as possible. If you are a morning workout person and find it difficult to prepare a meal a hour or two later, then add carbohydrates to this shake in the form of waxy maize, dextrose, maltodextrin, glucose, Gatorade or a pre-made mix you buy at the supplement store which will help replenish muscle glycogen. There are a lot of options for carbs post workout, so depending on your goals I would recommend something above or completely different (If you have questions shoot me an email I can better answer your questions).
Protein recommendation: Whey Isolate
3. Before bed is usually followed by a confused look. "What about eating after 7pm?"
It's not IF you eat, its WHAT you eat. The reason this question is usually asked is because most people tend to gravitate towards the pretzels, chips and ice cream at night while unwinding in front of the TV. Reference back to breakfast when I said our bodies go under some serious repairing and processes while sleeping at night. Our body cannot function or repair properly if there is nothing to repair with. If we do not have the nutrients to fuel the repairs of our body, the job doesn't get done. Assuming we get 6-8 hours of sleep at night, we need to have something sustainable through the night to breakdown and use so that we keep a positive nitrogen balance in our blood and promoting an anabolic environment to build muscle and burning fat. The only way we can ensure that is to take a slow digesting protein shake about 30-60 minutes before going to bed.
Protein recommendation: Casein
No matter how great your coach is, or if you have all the weight room knowledge there is, if you fail to refuel, replenish and repair, you will NOT see results and will never accomplish your goals. Making excuses are not for people serious about accomplishing and overcoming physical and mental hurdles in the weight room. If you are willing to put in the work and making lifestyle changes without excuses, then a sense of accomplishment will be with you at the end of the day. Remember...
"If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you'll find an excuse ."