Do You Really Need a Post-Workout Protein?

by Bethany Cleg on January 20, 2016 in Lifestyle, Wellness,
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Protein is advertised on the shelves of supermarkets, as large and intimidating, implying imposing growth after consumption. Supermarkets and sporting goods stores are stocked with protein sources that are meant to be consumed after a rigorous session of physical activity. At the gym, the benefits of protein after a workout is often extolled, with the pursuit of the best post workout recovery protein so popular, some of the fancier gyms have added bars where patrons can order shakes that are made-to-order. Whether it’s a shake, a bar, or a powder, it has become common knowledge that consuming protein after a hard workout is beneficial in some way. However, does this common practice actually do anything?

The Case For Protein

Protein helps the body create amino acids, which are very important to overall body health. Amino acids’ primary function are to repair muscle tissue in the body, which often gets damaged after an extended workout session as part of the growth process. This means that taking protein after a workout allows for faster recovery, and can even cause an increase in hypertrophy, like this study on the benefits of whey protein after a rigorous workout. This is ideal for those trying to gain muscle, like bodybuilders.

The Case Against

A study regarding the effects of a high-protein diet discovered that excessive protein intake can contribute to health issues. These health issues range in severity from headaches and malnourishment to the more significant kidney problems in extreme cases. However, taken in moderation, or from healthier sources than powders or chocolate bars, most of these negative effects can be avoided.

Protein Sources

shutterstock_247893733The benefits of consuming protein after a workout are numerous, and it is an effective time to do so. However, where protein is obtained is more important than when, and in what quantity. This is the issue with popular brands of chocolate bars boasting high protein value: This is not an appropriate source of protein after an intense workout, because it is high in sugars and fats and does not fit in many macros. The road to recovery is paved with good intentions, and while the allure of the simplicity and taste of a chocolate bar combined with the nutritional value of a high-protein meal is strong enough to encourage many to attempt it, but few to achieve it. A much more efficient way to get the ideal amount of protein after a workout is to create a shake containing ingredients high in protein.


shutterstock_166322195Protein can be consumed in shake form after a workout. This is time efficient, meal-replacing, and can ensure necessary nutrients are absorbed by the body despite potential side-effects of extended physical activity such as nausea or lack of appetite. There are many premade shakes sold, and gyms may offer to mix some for guests as well. A great way to create natural protein shakes is to mix kale and peanut butter with bananas, which also promotes fiber. A natural or fresh source of protein are ideal for consumption after a workout to reap the positive benefits.


White meat such as chicken or turkey are great natural sources of protein. Most fish, including tuna, tilapia, salmon, and sardines are high protein sources, easily consumed in salads or wraps or shakes. These are great sources of protein for your workout, as well as jerky and cashews or almonds. Just get a big bag of unsalted almonds and dig in. Eat the pain away. It’s good for you, it sharpens your teeth, trains you. This is the good stuff. It’s not that bad, try almond milk.

Almond Milk

Almond Milk has many of the benefits dairy offers, like promoting healthy bone and muscle growth. The advantage of almond milk over dairy is that it is more hygienic, easier to extract from the source, and tastes like a substitute for the real thing. Taken as cream for green tea, the high count of antioxidants will help burn the fat away. Supplemented after a workout, almonds will provide the protein needed to restore muscle and promote hypertrophy in some cases.

Considering the hype, the pomp and circumstance around protein as it is extolled in every publication, it sounds as though the consumption of protein is a panacea, providing a plethora of positive health benefits. What can be confirmed from this is that protein, from proper resources, taken in moderation after a workout can promote growth and recovery quicker, allowing the benefits of a workout to be reaped faster, or to allow for harder conditioning. On the road to recovery: Do you really need a post-workout protein? The answer is yes, but some assembly is required.