Protein post-workout: Does it matter?

A friend of mine recently asked about protein powder. She wanted to know if she had to drink it after a hard workout. She wanted to know because the nutritionist at her gym said it’s the best way to get the protein she needs to repair her body after a lift.   

Most people would just take the advice and run with it. But my friend prefers natural sources of energy (i.e. whole foods). So, she wanted a second opinion and asked me about it on a walk. As you guys probably know, I’m not a fitness expert. I don’t claim to be. But I am a big proponent of doing what’s right for your body and felt compelled to provide my two cents.

So, what is my two cents? Well, I think a protein shake after a hard workout or lift is fine. That’s what I have after a hard workout. And I like it. But a protein shake after a workout is not necessary, per say. Yes, there are benefits. For instance, I know that ingesting protein (plus fast digesting carbs) after a workout prevents my body from breaking down muscle tissue for energy. I also know that protein powder is portable; so, I won’t forget to put something in my body after a workout if I have a shake on me. But just because I drink a protein shake post-workout doesn’t mean you have to too. Ideally, you’d have some source of protein and fast digesting carb within 30 minutes of a hard workout or lift, but that combo can take many shapes. It can be a banana and nut butter. Or a Greek yogurt and berries. Or eggs and whole grain toast.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there is no universal best source of protein post-workout. Health is about what’s doing what’s best for your body and your mind; so, the protein source is really up to you. If you prefer natural sources of protein, then make sure to have a natural source easily available post-lift. If you don’t mind protein powder, drink that (just make sure to pick a brand that provides more nutrients than fillers). And if you don’t want to have protein after a workout quite yet, that’s okay too. Yes, protein increases recovery time and may amplify your results post-workout, but it won’t make or break your health. What you do throughout the day, i.e. your entire nutrition and movement approach, matters way more than if you have protein after a workout. That’s my two cents anyways. Let me know if you agree in the comments below.