Healthy Q & A: Protein and Exercise


I have been working out and am looking for a protein drink to assist.  What would you recommend?


Protein is incredibly important for helping to build and repair muscles.  Most recommendations say that it’s best to consume protein within one hour of resistance training since said training increases amino acid delivery to muscles as well as absorption.  Because of this, the sooner you consume protein after exercise, the bigger the stimulation of protein synthesis in the muscles. In theory, proper protein timing leads to increased gains in strength and lean body mass (something we all want).  There’s also some researchwhich says that drinking a protein shake before working out can be beneficial.


Whey protein is considered the best for muscles, since it’s quickly digested and over 90% of its protein is utilized by the body.  One we have that I’d recommend is Jarrow’s Whey Protein (it’s also 25% off this month).  It’s a good value, comes in three flavors, has a low amount of sugar, and has 4 grams of branched chain amino acids per serving (BCAAs help with maintaining and increasing muscle mass).


Whey comes from milk, though if you have a dairy sensitivity or allergy, we have a number of nice non dairy protein shake options (we have brown rice, pea, egg white, hemp, and soy protein shake mixes).


Something important to note is overall calorie expenditure and what you’re looking to gain from your workouts.  If you’re lifting weights and are trying to gain significant muscle, a protein shake after exercise is a great thing.  If your main goal is weight loss, and you’re doing shorter cardiovascular workouts, a post workout protein shake might not be needed; instead, just take care to ensure you’re getting enough protein in general.


For people doing mild to moderate exercise for weight loss, there is usually not a lot needed for “refueling”, and adding a lot after a workout can actually hurt your weight loss efforts.  An example would be a person who runs for 30 minutes and then eats a protein shake with a banana and added flax seed oil (a very healthy shake in and of itself).  30 minutes of jogging burns roughly 300 calories, but the shake described above could be as much as 400-500 calories.  If a shake like that is used to replace a meal or snack that would be fine, but if it’s added on top of a person’s normal food intake, you can actually be consuming more calories than expended during a 30 minute exercise session.