If you’ve entered the world of exercise and fitness training, you’ve probably heard about the importance of getting more protein in your diet. You may even have been lulled in by the commercials featuring lean, sculpted bodies advertising the latest protein drink supplement. Before heading out to buy the latest bodybuilding shake, it’s important to consider whether or not this move is actually good for your overall health. Should you drink a protein drink supplement after exercise?
It’s true that protein is required to build lean body mass but have you ever stopped to consider how much protein you’re already taking in on a daily basis? If you’re a female, the recommended protein intake is between 0.8 and 1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. If you’re performing strenuous exercise routines, it may be advisable to up your protein intake a bit, being careful to stay below 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. (to get grams per pound, divide by 2.2) Using these calculations, a 140 pound female would require between 50 and 125 grams of protein per day. The 125 grams would be needed only if you perform very high intensity exercise, otherwise you should stay at the lower end.
In most cases, protein requirements can be easily met by adding high quality protein sources to each meal such as egg whites, tuna, lean chicken, tofu, and turkey without the need for an additional protein drink supplement. When you add additional protein to your diet beyond the amount that’s needed by your body, the excess is broken down and excreted into the urine which means you may be flushing that bodybuilding shake right down the toilet.
There’s also the issue the health effects of protein drink supplements. Some experts believe that consuming a protein supplements or a very high protein diet may put additional stress on the kidneys which could be a problem if early stage kidney disease is present. High levels of dietary protein have also been shown to increase insulin like growth factor levels or IGF-1 which may play a role in the development of certain types of cancer.
Instead of reaching for a protein drink supplement after a workout, you can boost your energy levels and replace glycogen stores in the muscles by adding foods rich in high fiber, complex carbohydrates such as whole grain cereal or fruit. If carbohydrates aren’t consumed after a workout to replenish glycogen stores, the body may respond by breaking down muscle tissue to get the glucose it needs. It’s a good idea to add a small amount of protein to your post workout snack which could include low fat cottage cheese, a small container of unsweetened yogurt, or small amounts of lean chicken or turkey. It’s critical to watch the calorie content of your post workout snack you don’t want to undo all of that hard work!
All in all, you may be better off getting nixing the protein drink supplement and getting your recommended protein levels from high quality foods. After all, doesn’t food taste better than a chalky protein drink supplement?