By Mairead Rodgers, RD PHEc
I have done some weird nutrition things from time to time around working out, but this is one of the weirder ones. So while I laugh at myself about this (and you can laugh too), let’s break down the logic behind this decision and what you can learn about recovery nutrition from this particularly weird episode.
The two questions I feel need to be answered:
1. Why did I need a protein shake at that exact moment?
2. Why a protein shake?
For the first question, the answer is that I knew I needed to refuel my body. And I needed to refuel soon. On the day in question, I’d gone to group CrossFit class and gone for an easy run both in the morning. I had a small breakfast before hand, enough to give me some energy and keep me from being hangry. But I also know that pretty soon after a workout I need to refuel with protein and carbs. The longer I wait, the more my body will be playing catch-up all day. The sooner I refuel, the better I can help my body recover so I can keep training the next day. But since I couldn’t wait any longer to shower (I was super gross and needed to get on with my day), I had to choose between showering and nutrition, or start my recovery nutrition at the same time. Getting some kind of nutrition in within an hour of working out is key for recovery, especially if it was a harder or longer workout.
Is a protein shake necessary to recover from a workout? No, not at all. The one I drank had a combination of carbs and protein, which is key for recovery after a workout; protein to repair muscles, carbs to replenish energy stores. I chose a protein shake because it was convenient. Would a chicken breast and rice, or a tuna sandwich, or literally any other combination of protein and carbs worked just as well? Yep! The real benefit of protein powders is that they’re portable and quick and easy. If we want to get that recovery nutrition in within roughly an hour of working out, convenience can be key if you’re not planning on eating a real meal or snack in that time.
The take away: Carbs and protein shortly after workouts. If you’re not going to get to eat a real-food snack or meal, protein powder can be convenient. And also you should laugh at yourself if you realize you’re doing something totally ridiculous.
More nutrition questions? Shoot me an email and let’s chat!