What you do after a workout is just as important as what you do during, especially where muscle recovery is concerned.
As big a part of my life as the IT world is, it’s not the only thing I think about. I also happen to be an avid fitness enthusiast! I believe exercise and wellness are big parts of leading a happy, healthy, and successful life, and I’d like to pass that on to you.
In this series, I’ll share simple and effective tips and insight for leading a healthier life. Keep these in mind, and you’ll be surprised by how soon you feel a difference!
This week I’ll be sharing some insight on the important role protein shakes play in recovery.
I’ve talked before about the reasons late-night snacking is a bad idea, but you’ll find that as with most things in life there is an exception to that rule. It’s just a matter of choosing the right kind of snack – one that gives your body something it needs instead of just satisfying a craving you know you shouldn’t be indulging right before bed.
Protein plays an important role in muscle repair and recovery, which makes it a great choice post-workout. Treating yourself to a protein shake before bed can help your body bounce back from the day’s physical activities, and make getting out of bed the next day less of a struggle. Improving your fitness level or losing weight does not and should not mean depriving yourself, especially when there are options readily available to you that can act as both a treat and a treatment.
Most of your workout recovery happens while you’re asleep since it’s a little more difficult for your muscles to rest and heal when you’re still up and moving around. While foods like tart cherries help with muscle recovery by helping to prevent damage from happening in the first place, protein boosts your body’s ability to recover after the fact, which makes it an ideal ingredient for a late-night smoothie or shake. The more efficiently your body can repair itself, the better you’ll feel the next day.
Protein is also a great source of amino acids, which are crucial for building and maintaining muscle mass. Even if your goals are geared more towards weight loss, building muscle is an important part of improving your overall fitness level. And as an added bonus, making protein part of your late-night treat can give you more energy in the morning and make waking up easier.
However, you’ll want to make sure you’re adding the right protein supplement to your smoothie or shake. Whey protein is the most well-known, and it’s great for pre-workout snacks as well as during. Whey offers a fast-acting boost to your energy level and metabolism, which isn’t necessarily something you want as you’re trying to fall asleep.
Casein protein offers the same muscle recovery benefits as whey protein but releases its dose of amino acids at a much slower pace. While this means the recovery process then takes the entire night, it also means more of that energy is still hanging around when your alarm goes off in the morning. That’s not to say you can’t give whey protein a try to see what kind of effect it has on your body. Everyone metabolizes nutrients differently, so whey protein could very well be a good choice for you. There is science to back up both options, so it’s more a matter of personal preference than which one is better.
So what else goes into these shakes and smoothies? Ideally, you’ll want to choose low-calorie and low-fat ingredients to mix with your protein powder. Things like almond milk, peanut butter, banana, low-fat yogurt, and cottage cheese are all great choices. It’s also a good idea to grab yourself some flavored protein powders. Most varieties come in chocolate and vanilla, and that flavoring makes a big difference, especially if you’d prefer to keep your shake or smoothie ingredients to a minimum.
Certain foods have a higher concentration of nutrients and protein that make them as useful as they are delicious when the goal is muscle repair. Try swapping out peanut butter for almond butter to change things up, or toss in a scoop of cacao nibs for something that tastes a little more like an indulgence. Adding a little something sweet to your late-night shake is perfectly fine as long as it’s not adding a ton of extra calories that are going to undermine your diet plan. Anything you add to your fitness routine should help you to maintain consistency and continue to strive for your end goal.