I have taken up strength training, and as part of the process, the nutritional information I’ve been fed most of my life kicked in.
Ever since I took a class through my employer twenty years ago, people have been pushing protein powder post workout. Not just any protein powder, but whey protein.
Up until this point, I’d been diligently following what that original instructor told me. The books I’d bought on the subject reiterated everything he’d said.
I decided to check with science and see what the actual demonstrable results were.
This was harder than I thought.
I read through the WebMD articles, but there were no links to actual studies. No published results. Just an “expert” giving their opinion. I was surprised, though I probably shouldn’t be.
There is a lot of really good information here if you are a really serious lifter. If you look past the images, you’ll see that the site is actually quite impressive. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was. The articles I read there were all very well written and footnoted.
Yeah, the authors quote real studies. They think about those studies and what they mean for their target readers. Seriously good site. I wish I could find something similar for middle-aged desk-jockeys trying to dodge osteoporosis. Interestingly, this site assumes you are drinking a shake after workout and goes into which protein powders are best. But, these guys are hardcore lifters.
I am not. Middle-aged desk-jockey, remember?
So, WebMD’s site offered a different opinion than the “expert” that my company had paid to come talk to all of the employees, and a different opinion than that of devoted lifters. WebMD’s opinion had no scientific studies behind it, so I dug a little deeper.
It’s from the US National Library of Medicine. Yeah, that’s a respectable data source. I tried to read this article, but I’ll confess, I ended up skipping down to the conclusion. That conclusion states that certain proteins, consumed pre or post workout, do, indeed, have an impact. Not only that, but for building muscle, whey protein really did have the best results.
Sometimes experience, as in the case of those weight lifters over at T-Nation, has taught us a thing or two.
Next question for me, however, is does what I do really constitute the level of exertion they are describing in the study.
Probably not. I’m a desk-jockey by day and romance writer by night. Yes, I’m strength training, but I’m not really “weight lifting”. Especially not like the guys a T-Nation. As you’ve probably figured out by now, I’m in awe. Especially after enduring my version of strength training. That’s serious dedication and pain over there that I’ll never have.
That’s okay. My goals are different. I’ll never be ripped, but I am looking to be able to stay mobile as I age and fend off osteoporosis which is a big deal in my family, especially for desk-jockeys.
As of right now, I am still using the powder after each workout.
Not because I think it’ll help me build more muscle, but because of a less talked about side effect.
I’d love to link to a quality study on this, but for all of the websites that talk about faster recovery, none of them actually link to any studies that prove it. *sigh*
What I do have is my own experience. Maybe it’s placebo (the brain is powerful that way), or maybe it’s real, but lots of people who do much harder workouts than mine swear it helps get rid of jelly legs faster. Lemme tell ya, I’ll do a lot to get rid of jelly legs and drinking something that tastes like chocolate milk is not a hardship.
So, for the moment, I’m willing to let my quest for the truth rest and drink my protein shake after working out. Maybe it helps, maybe it’s all in my head, but for the moment, I don’t see any reason not to indulge a placebo. And, they whey protein I found on Amazon tastes like chocolate milk.
How about you? Do you strength train, and if so, do you drink a protein shake afterwards? Why or why not? Any other post-workout tips to reduce jelly legs or just the general aches and pains?