Last week we looked at ways to stay hydrated while working out and a few of the products that can help you to rehydrate your body and replace the nutrients lost due to exercise. Today we are going to break down a few of the nutritional supplements that are being marketed for post-exercise recovery, specifically protein shakes, high carbohydrate drinks and shakes, and combinations of the two.
One of the most popular and easily accessible routes for refueling after exercise now is in the form of protein shakes. Here on our campus, there is no doubt that you have seen Muscle Milk vending machines all around and most of our athletes have a ready supply of muscle milk powder at their disposal. That being said, why should you try a protein shake? The basic science is that when you work out, you are essentially breaking down muscle fibers and tissue. This is done so that as the body rebuilds, it will create more of these fibers and there will be a positive size and strength gain. Now there is much more that goes into strength training and program design and it is not our goal to lump it all into one class, but the basics remain the same no matter what the specific goals of the program are. As your body breaks down muscle, it will require more protein (the major building block of the body) in order to repair the damage. That is where protein shakes come in. Now there is much discussion going on about the best times to drink protein shakes, but in our opinion, if you are simply trying to replenish the body’s store of protein, it is sufficient to just drink it post workout. It is however, imperative to drink it within an hour though and studies have shown that 15-20 grams is all that is needed. Anything beyond that could potentially slow your body’s natural production of these building blocks, not to mention, it can get quite expensive!
The second type of product that we will discuss involves drinks that are high in carbohydrates. These drinks include sports drinks (such as Gatorade and Powerade) and nutritional shakes. I know what you are thinking, in this low carb world that we live in, why would anybody want a high carb drink post exercise? The reason is that muscle glycogen stores become depleted with exercise and that replenishing these stores will allow for a faster return to normal muscle function. This allows for more training, thus an increase in performance. Also, it is important to note that carbs are the main energy source that most of us use. So a carb deficiency means an energy deficiency.
Lastly, we will look at a relatively new item that has shown remarkable promise in the field of post-exercise recovery, chocolate milk. Many researchers are very impressed at the natural mix of carbs and proteins that are found in chocolate milk. Another positive aspect of chocolate milk is the relatively low cost and drinkability that is found. In many anecdotal studies, performance has increased and recovery time has decreased, all with the simple addition of chocolate milk post exercise.
Info on Protein Shakes:
Info on High Carb Shakes:
Info on Chocolate Milk: