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Muscle Growth, Nutrition

Do I Need a Protein Shake Every Time I Workout?

By Joe Talarico on Feb 28, 2018 1:36:00 AM
4 Minutes Reading Time



That’s the vibe I get when I see lifters (especially Chad’s lifting with other Chad types).

Isn’t it hilarious how the people who focus on the smallest aspects of exercise and nutrition are always the same people a year from now that look the same?

Let’s Look at the Stats Jimmy!

A meta-analysis of 22 studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed improved lean body mass and strength when protein supplementation was included around the exercise period. HOWEVER, this may have just been because the individuals were given increased protein consumption overall (.5 grams/lb increased to .8g/lb). Essentially, they were feeding the gains more appropriately.

What we do know, is muscle protein synthesis stays elevated several hours after a 20-30 gram bolus is consumed. The elevation starts decreasing for 3-4 hours. You’d be better off following those guidelines, and consuming a sufficient protein dose every 3-4 hours, if maximizing muscle protein synthesis was your goal. But for the love of God, don’t let that run your life! Follow the meal frequency that comfortably fits YOUR life. Not Chad’s performance enhanced life.

We’re just a thumbnail in this entire solar system brooo!

The anabolic window is like Star Wars, Episode I. It exists, and sounds great on paper, but in reality, it was a complete waste of our time. “Meesa thinks anabolic window issa bad idea!” - Jar Jar Binks

Step back and take a look at the bigger picture. What does your overall protein intake and diet look like? The simple things are the big things. If you aren’t even eating in a slight caloric surplus to warrant muscle growth, then slugging a shake 10 minutes post workout isn’t going to change much.

Takeaway-Make sure you’re shooting for .6-.8 grams of protein. Maybe a little more if you are dieting down or need a little more satiety. Protein can keep you fuller longer, and help raise metabolism cause of the thermic effect. But contrary to your local gym bodybuilder (sorry Chad man), eating 1.2-2 grams per pound simply isn’t needed and may be working against you.

One Last Thing

Something I’ve noticed over the years overall as a nutrition coach, was people overcompensate on any advice thrown out there by guru’s.

“Did you say anaBROlic window? GOTCHA. I’m going to eat a huge meal 30 minutes before and a even more epic one 5 minutes after!”

Listen guy. You glycogen stores aren’t going to be THAT depleted from your 40 set arm day. Neither are your amino acid levels. Experiment! That’s what adhering to a long term lifestyle is all about.

For me personally, I don’t mind working out on an empty stomach, or at the very least not eating an hour so before (I feel heavy and sluggish). I’d rather have my savory meal some time after my workout. But that’s my preference that I’ve learned over time for my body. I have friends that absolutely need a meal an hour or so before to feel that energy come in.

If you eat a meal one hour before, amino acid levels in the blood will be peaked, and this can last anywhere from 3-6 hours to fall back to baseline. So if it’s easier and you prefer eating beforehand go ahead. If you want to maximize the MPS spike, have a meal 1-2 hours before, and then another meal soon after your workout.

Good luck, and may the gains be with you.

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Joe Talarico

Joe is a certified Precision Nutrition and strength & conditioning coach. He assisted the UCLA Women’s Tennis team in winning their 2014 NCAA Championship Title, as well as study under the great strength coaches at Pepperdine University. He was a collegiate rower at the University of Rhode Island (where he got his Kinesiology degree) as well as an amateur physique competitor. He is currently the master trainer at Upgrade Labs in Santa Monica where he is combining his years of training clients in the gym with newer technology to optimize their performance and recovery. He also cohosts The RelationSH*T Show Podcast with his fiancée where they discuss all relationship topics unfiltered from who pays on dates, to open relationships.

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