Let’s get straight to the point. The question people always ask me is, “Should I get Muscle Milk to drink after my workout?”
Muscle Milk is absolutely delicious and I used to drink it for breakfast every morning despite it possibly having too many heavy metals (ex arsenic, cadmium and lead). If you are comfortable with this possible danger, it is a solid snack before bed or breakfast substitute in the morning due to its high casein and milk protein composition. However, this is a discussion for another post.
So let’s get back to the question at hand. If you are going to go the protein powder route, what should you have post workout?
I recommend whey protein isolate. You’ve heard of whey protein before but why is it so popular? It is because there is no other mainstream powder that absorbs as fast as whey post workout. Furthermore, whey has all the essential branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and is especially high in the BCAA leucine (1 20 g scoop of whey will contain 3 g of leucine). BCAAs, and leucine in particular, stimulate protein synthesis on a higher scale than normal protein can post-workout.
Why whey protein isolate specifically? Per the NIH, approximately 65% of the human population loses some ability to process lactose post-infancy. Lactose intolerance especially affects those of East Asian, West African, Arab, Jewish, Greek and Italian descent. As whey protein is dairy based, it is logical to assume it will include lactose.
This is kinda true.
There are two mainstream types of whey protein: isolates and concentrates. Whey protein isolate is more expensive than whey protein concentrate, but it consists of ~90% protein vs. the ~80% protein found in concentrate. This is because whey protein isolate goes through an extra processing step that strips out a further level of fat and carbohydrates from the mix to maximize the protein composition of what’s left. In addition to fats and carbs, this processing step also strips out lactose to the point that isolate will contain less than 1% lactose. Furthermore, it is a good thing that isolate is almost completely stripped of fats because no one should be consuming fats in their post workout shakes. Fats are known to slow down the body’s absorption of protein. Thus, even if one handles lactose well, whey isolate is still the better pick. Isolate does have less nutritional value than concentrate but that’s okay because the goal here is to maximize protein absorption.
I highly recommend you consume carbs with your post workout shake to enjoy faster recovery. I particularly emphasize high glycemic index (GI) carbs such as sucrose (table sugar) and dextrose (a favorite of bodybuilders). Carbs help to transport protein to your beat up muscles to help them recover faster. The higher the GI, the faster the protein will get to the muscles. Keep in mind fruits are usually low GI so not all are a fit for this case; dates and watermelons are two higher GI exceptions, however.
Because I am aiming to gain strength right now, I personally shoot for a 2:1 carb to protein ratio post workout (~60 g carbs and ~30 g protein). Some high level athletes such as weightlifters will go as high as a 4:1 ratio. If you want to minimize the level of body fat you gain, shoot for a 1:1 ratio.
When you buy your whey isolate, make sure you get the stuff that is coming from quality (grass fed) cows, is cold pressed, is free of toxic metals and is free of GMOs and artificial sweeteners. Long-term, these factors will make a difference for you both in terms of gains (ex. better amino acid profiles & keeps whey non-acidic) and overall health (ex. high exposure to heavy metals long-term is not good for you).
I just bought a packet of Opportuniteas Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate from Amazon as it fits the full bill of what I’m looking for to a tee. I’ve had great results with it in the past and highly recommend it to anyone.
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