We asked an exercise scientist what you should drink right after a workout
Flickr user LyndaSanchez
Brands like Gatorade and Powerade claim their products have the formula down, while exercise programs like P90X and others make recovery formulas they say have the perfect mixture of carbohydrates, proteins, and supplements to get you where you need to be after all that hard work.
So what's the truth?
We recently spoke to Shawn Arent, an exercise scientist at Rutgers University, and he gave us the lowdown. For many people doing a light workout, hydration is key, with a focus on replenishing fluids and electrolytes (and feel free to leave those sugary sports drinks behind).
But for high-intensity and muscle-training workouts especially, eating or drinking a sufficient amount of protein after exercise can help build muscle. In the end, Arent said, a lot of people are messing this up.
Here's what he told us when we asked him what people should do for a recovery drink:
"Honestly, for most people, 20 grams of protein. They can mix it with carbs, or not. If they did a real hard workout I would recommend mixing it with carbohydrates. But basically, 20 grams of protein shortly after your workout and then eat a normal meal within the next couple hours. I think that's a real simple, easy strategy.
"Technically it [protein] could be more than that, but we tend to see it around 20 grams. Things like whey protein actually stimulate protein synthesis [which is important for building muscles]. So it increases recovery from that standpoint because of what it does to protein synthesis.
"There's other effects even above and beyond that 20 grams, but for most people the 'top out' for the protein synthesis is right around there. So it's a nice, easy number for most people to remember, because it's roughly a scoop of protein from most protein powders.
"... But I think one of the things I see that can be a bad trend with that [recovery drinks], you know, people will get on the treadmill, they'll do that half hour, they'll burn 250 calories, and then they'll go downstairs to the shake bar and get a 500 calorie shake. You didn't work that hard, you don't need 500 calories. So I think calorie awareness is an important thing."
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