Q: I have purchased some protein powder to assist with muscle development and recovery etc., and was wondering if I should be drinking this in a one go or sipping it? Or is there any difference?
A: If you’ve been putting more work in at the gym then, yes, you’ll definitely need to upload more protein.
Protein powder/shakes are the way to do that in an easily-digestible form, but timing is also important – as your question implies.
The body will go into muscle recovery and rebuilding during, and immediately following, your workout session, so it’s actually crucial to get as much in as you can, as soon as you can.
This means you’ll need to take the whole shake on board within 30 mins of your training session, then drip-feed additional protein in through the day from the meals you eat. You can sip on it through the workout too.
Can I Have Too Much?
Careful how much protein you upload at once, however, as your body can only make use of about 30-40gms at a time (about 2 scoops, usually). Any more than that and you’ll end up with a surplus you can’t make use of all at once, which will get converted into glucose.
This goes into the bloodstream and you’ll either use it as energy – the main premise of the Atkins diet – or you’ll store it as fat.
The best protein shake is made with water, not milk, for fastest absorption, and be careful the formula you’re using doesn’t have Aspartame or Acesulfame K (potassium), as these artificial sweeteners have been linked to brain tumours.
Which Type is Best?
Whey protein is the most commonly available product, but you need to be careful in selecting the right type. Medical Health Guru Dr Joseph Mercola (USA) provides a really in-depth assessment of whey protein HERE.
Good breakfast sources of fast dietary protein are organic free-range eggs (so a 3-egg omelette would be good), cottage cheese (a 250g pottle has about 32g protein – same as a fillet steak) or thick Greek yoghurt (unsweetened naturally!)
What’s the Formula?
Protein guidelines for active men is to take 1.5g protein per kilo of lean bodymass per day, and an active woman would take on about 1g protein per kg of lean mass per day. So if I weighed 100kg with bodyfat level of, say 20%, my lean mass would be 80kg. Therefore I should be getting in about 1.5 x 80 = 120g protein per day.
Because you can only absorb about 30g per sitting, I’d need to spread that over 4 meals, one of which would be my shake taken straight after (or during) the workout.
You can also supplement with BCAA’s – or Branch Chain Amino Acids – instead of a shake, or if any of your meals happen to be low in protein.