Pre And Post-Workout Nutrition: Eat For The Results You’re After

Do You NEED to Use Protein Powder?

As much as supplement companies would like to tell you YES, the answer is NO.  You don’t NEED to use protein powder.  However, there are many benefits to doing so.  How do you fare?  Are you currently using a protein powder?  Are you thinking about implementing it into your regimen but aren’t sure of all the pros and cons?  Let’s take a look at both sides of the equation.

Why You Don’t Need Protein Powder

Protein powder is a supplement.  And a supplement is simply a product used to compliment something – in this case, our nutrition.  If you are eating whole food meals with a quality source of protein (this can be something like turkey, chicken, beef, fish, and/or eggs) you truly don’t need a protein powder.

Regardless of how many meals you eat each day, you should have a quality source of protein in each.  Including protein in your meals can help:

  • Stabilize blood sugar levels 
  • Boost energy levels 
  • Support lean muscle mass 
  • Allow you to feel satiated longer 
  • Keep your metabolism revving 
  • Improve your mood 
  • Promote healthy brain function 
  • Maintain strong bones 
  • Protect heart health 
  • Slow the aging process

Other “non-conventional” protein sources that can be added to your diet are foods such as nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, NUTS N MORE, etc.), bone broth, lentils, black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, yogurt, kefir, raw cheese, and nuts (almonds, peanuts, cashews, pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, etc.) to name a few

If you are eating enough whole food sources of protein (and in an assortment, not the same food over and over again), you are providing your body with a constant supply of amino acids which helps promote the repair of broken down muscle fibers due to things such as intense exercise.  When amino acids are available, they help muscle fibers become bigger and stronger.  If you don’t supply your muscles with the protein and amino acids needed to recover properly, your body can actually use your lean muscle mass as an energy source and start breaking it down into a usable form.  When this occurs, you risk “muscle wasting” or muscle atrophy. 

Why You Need Protein Powder

The downside to only consuming whole food sources of protein comes when you aren’t able to fit in enough protein in your diet to hit your macros for the day.  That’s where protein powder truly shines.  It’s extremely convenient which is appealing to many individuals.   

We have all been in the situation where we were left without a meal or we need something in a pinch before we head out the door.  We don’t have time to pull something from the refrigerator and cook it. We don’t have time to toss something in the microwave and sit down and eat it.  And we don’t want to grab a bag of chips or pretzels that will leave you hungry ten minutes after you devour it.  Make yourself a protein shake. 

You can literally make a protein shake in less than a minute.  You can either quick slam it down or you can take it with you – assuming your shaker bottle has a lid that closes securely.  Additionally, due to the convenience of a protein powder, you can actually pack a serving (or more) and keep it in your bag, in your desk at work (hopefully next to your Nuts n More spread), or in your car.  The only thing you’d need to make your shake is water and a container (which you can even keep your protein powder in your shaker bottle and simply fill it with water when you’re ready to consume).

The most common way that people use protein powder, though, is post-workout.  You’ve broken down your muscle fibers and you want to kick-start the recovery process by feeding your muscles the nutrients they need to repair and rebuild.  A liquid protein source is faster digesting than a whole food source and therefore makes for a much better post-workout meal. 

If you were to get a protein powder and use it for nothing else other than for post-workout, I’d be more than pleased.  However, if you’re in a pinch, it’s a great thing to have close by.   

Whether you decide to utilize a protein powder or not is completely up to you.  Again, I’d at least recommend a protein powder for post-workout.  Any other time of day is your choice.  Hopefully, this article has helped you understand protein powder and it’s uses a little better and helps you make an informed decision on whether or not you want to use it in your nutrition regimen. 

Article Courtesy Of Matt Weik