Eating high-quality protein after a workout can help your muscles grow and repair. Here are some of the best protein sources to choose from.
“Whether you should have protein post-workout or not depends on your training and body composition goals, as well as the amount of training you do,” says Dr Amanda Claassen (Registered Dietitian and Exercise Scientist, PhD, Head of Science & Innovation at Virgin Active Health Clubs).
She says that people who are engaged in serious weight training to increase their muscle mass or those who do endurance training several hours in one go could benefit from adding some protein to a post-workout snack or drink.
“The benefit thereof is to either assist with the muscle building process (if bulking up is your aim), or to replace and maintain protein used during hours of endurance (cardio-type) exercise done at moderate- to high-intensity.”
How much protein?
However, before you stock up on too much protein, Claassen says that moderation is key and the average gym-goer who typically trains for roughly an hour per session, three or four times a week who wants to lose weight, “a protein snack or shake would likely be an overkill and might add unnecessary ‘excess’ calories which will negatively affect one’s body fat”.
She rather advises these active enthusiasts to have a well-balanced diet eaten as three regular main meals per day, would be more than sufficient to meet their needs.
5 quality protein options
Dairy: Claassen says dairy is a great balanced mix of carbs and protein. “In recent years milk (e.g. low fat flavoured milk) or yoghurt has been proven as the best sports nutrition beverage.”
Bowl of cereal + milk
Sandwichwith thinly sliced meat/chicken or cheese / cottage cheese or 2 large boiled eggs
Biltong: a small handful of thinly sliced lean biltong (ostrich or game biltong) + glass of fruit juice / energy drink
Fruit salad + yoghurt(or custard) + sprinkle of nuts/seeds.
Claassen says you could also make your own shake or smoothie using milk / yoghurt as the base + any fruit:
Tip: Add 1-2 tablespoons milk powder for a carbo and protein boost (especially if you can only stomach a small amount post-workout).
Use honey / Nesquik / Milo (etc.) to add extra flavour (and a bit of carbo-boost after a strenuous workout)
Use vanilla essence for a flavour alternative.
“Be aware that several scientific surveys and consumer reports (and failed drug tests amongst competitive athletes) have indicated that commercially available sports supplements / shakes / potions may be contaminated with untested, harmful, banned substances that may not be listed on the label. Protein shakes in particular have been shown to be prone to such contamination,” she warns.
(Source: Dr Amanda Claassen; Registered Dietitian and Exercise Scientist, PhD, Head of Science & Innovation at Virgin Active Health Clubs)
(Amy Froneman, Health24, September 2012)
Quiz: Am I eating too little protein?