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Do I need a protein shake post-workout?

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Do I need a protein shake post-workout?

My advice to clients is - real food post workout will replenish your body better than any powdered shake.


That's why we have the Enliven Fitness Smoothie Bar, incidentally. The menu includes our favourite options to hydrate, restore & refeed after your training sesh.


Here are some examples of dubious post-workout advice:


* Slurp a fast-acting (processed) protein such as Whey Protein Isolate or amino-acid blend immediately post-workout!


* Use pure glucose or powdered carbs to spike insulin so you can build more muscle.


* If you're trying to lose weight, don't eat anything at all.


All these points contain a speck of merit, but miss the mark in terms of sensible, sustainable nutrition.




Here's what we espouse at Enliven instead:


1. Understand your goals first.


Nutrition, level of exercise and the need for 'post-workout' meals/supplements is determined by your goals. Here are some questions I'd ask to assess your individual needs:


- Are you hoping to bulk up & lean down?
- How long & intensely did you exercise (this changes day-to-day)?
- Are you suffering from fatigue or adrenal stress?
- How long until your next meal?


2. Do it the natural way


Depending on your answers, I'd give you a specific recommendation. Regardless of the details - it will always be natural.

For example:


* If you're looking to put on muscle, combine protein, fats & carbs. Add in some frozen banana to a young coconut & egg smoothie and have within 30 minutes of training (i.e get to the Enliven smoothie bar!)

* If your goal is to reduce body fat, stick to protein & fat focused smoothies - such as egg, coconut & cacao. Or, simply eat a whole food meal (low in carbs) when you get home.


3. Respect the intelligence of real food


This is our overarching principle - the body understands natural, whole, unprocessed foods better than any powder or supplement. Most protein cocktails leverage clever marketing and average science to sell you a thing you don't need - and worse, something downright damaging.


Compare this with the comprehensible nutrition of an egg yolk, a coconut - complete with electrolytes & fatty acids, (optional) fruits with antioxidants, natural carbohydrates (to enhance the uptake of protein & nutrients) plus fibre.


If you opt to simply have your next meal after a workout, this is great too. A fast can work wonders for mobilising fat & helping you lean down quicker - but the timing & frequency must be tailored to you. It's not wonderful for women suffering from adrenal burnout, for example.


The take-home message


Unless you're training at an elite level, have goals beyond general health or really enjoy the taste of oxysterols, stick to real food.


The macronutrient ratios will vary depending on your personal goals, but the principle should not: high-quality, recognisable nutrition that serves you for life.


Now get sweating & slurping (a whole coconut shake)!


Michael Wilson


Enliven Fitness
Enliven Organics
Functional Movement Specialist
Personal Trainer
Holistic Nutrition Coach


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