You may know that your body needs protein to recover from workout routines and maintain muscle mass, but did you know that there are special techniques to help make protein consumption more effective? Not all proteins are created equal. Soy protein shakes and whey protein shakes are used for completely difference purposes. Knowing how and when to take protein shakes can help enhance your performance and help you reach your fitness goals faster.
Three Important Types of Protein to Know
Whey protein is found as a by-product of milk and cheese productions. This type of protein can be quickly ingested into the body quickly. Because of that whey protein shakes are the best protein shakes for post-workout recovery.
Casein protein accounts for about 80% of proteins in cow milk and cheese. This type of protein has the ability to coagulate (gel or clot) in your stomach, which causes it to digest very slowly. I opt to use for Casein powder instead of milk is because milk contains fats and carbohydrates, which I do not need for my purposes.
Egg protein is found in [you guessed it] eggs. These proteins take about one and a half to three hours to absorb into your body (medium absorption rate). As a side note, careful nutritional inspection will reveal that egg yolks are quite good for you too. Here is a comparison between egg white and egg yolk.
How to Take These Proteins
Because whey protein can be absorbed quickly, it is best consumed immediately after a workout. After an intense workout, your body is in a state that craves nutrients. Failure to provide proper nutrition will force the body into a catabolic state (you do not want this). After a workout, you need simple carbohydrates to quickly push the body out of its catabolic state and whey protein to help your muscles rebuild. After my workouts, I drink a shake consisting of sugar and whey protein mixed at ~2:1 ratio. For example my post-workout protein shake consists of
- 50g of whey protein (usually 2 scoops)
- 100g of pure cane sugar OR 125g of honey
(About ~80% of honey is sugar, giving 100g of sugar total.)
I prefer using 125g of honey because it is more soluble it contains potassium which also aids in muscle recovery and helps prevent cramps.
Because casein protein is absorbed very slowly, it is best to consume this protein before you sleep. The reason for this is because your body goes into starvation every night and runs on catabolism. Sleep is really the best time for your body to rebuild and recover, but it cannot do it if it is in a catabolic state. The slow release property of casein protein provides your body with a constant small source of protein to keep your body from catabolism. My pre-sleep shake is quite simple: water and casein protein (no other non-sense).
Egg proteins fall in between the two extremes and it is also a truly natural gold-standard source of protein. Some people suggest drinking whey protein in the morning to combat catabolism from sleep, but I prefer to incorporate eggs into my breakfast. Why?
- One egg contains more than 6 grams of high quality protein containing all the essential amino acids our body needs to build and maintain muscle mass.
- I need my breakfast to keep me full longer than 2 hours. Egg protein take longer to absorb than whey protein. Eggs also contain several B vitamins required for energy production (good way to start your day full of energy).
- I don’t want to drink protein powders all day.
- Eggs is one of the best fat burning foods.
You shouldn’t eat more than 1 egg per day because of its cholesterol content. The good news is that cholesterol is only found in the egg yolk. So my optimal breakfast would contain, 1 whole egg (with yolk) + 1 egg without yolk, giving me ~10g of egg protein to start my day. I opt for 1 whole egg because the B vitamins and other useful nutrients are only found in the yolk.
Smart protein consumption is crucial to fitness success. I guarantee that if you follow this protein consumption plan, you will notice results quicker from your exercises. You will not be as sore during workouts, allowing you to workout longer. You will be sore less often, allowing you to exercise more often. You can even tweak your protein consumption (add more nutrients) to make them act like protein diet shakes and replace meals. Also, retaining more muscle mass will help you will lose fat quicker. As a bonus, check out my post on the best protein powder and optimize your protein consumption today!