Swimming is a cardiovascular workout that challenges your strength and endurance, making it an excellent way to stay in shape. Because swimming is a total-body workout, it's important to help keep all your muscles strong. Drinking a protein shake after a swim is an effective way to help repair and rebuild tired muscles, and the best protein drink after a swim workout includes whey protein.
Benefits of Protein Drinks
As you bulk up on carbohydrates to give your body as much energy as possible, you may cut back on protein, creating a protein deficiency. Protein is essential to repairing and growing lean muscle tissue, and without enough of it, your body has to work twice as hard to recover from workouts. Drinking a protein drink after a swim workout ensures your body has some amount of protein every day so it doesn't lose muscle mass or vital nutrients.
What Is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is a natural, high-quality protein from cow's milk. This kind of protein has essential amino acids your body doesn't produce on its own -- and when it's refined, it has practically no fat or cholesterol. It also has the highest content of cysteine, which helps in the biosynthesis of glutathione, the amino acid that is the most responsible for repairing protein synthesis, amino acid transport and enzyme activation. Consuming whey protein powder after swimming can help rebuild muscles. You can buy it in bulk from nutritional supplement stores or your local grocery store.
Making a Post-swim Protein Drink
Use a blender to mix up a nutritious protein shake. Your ingredients should contain about 36 grams of protein and 24 grams of carbohydrate, which is recommended by U.S. Masters Swimming as the best blend to optimally restore bone and muscle tissues post-swim. Drink your shake immediately after swimming. If you're headed to the pool and then straight to work, mix it up before you go and take it with you in a thermos that will stay cool.
Protein Drink Ingredients
Protein powders vary in taste, but there are lots of ingredients you can blend together with a scoop of whey protein powder. For example, blend a scoop of protein powder with half-cup of fat-free milk, a half-cup plain fat-free yogurt and a half-cup of strawberries for a delicious strawberry-flavored drink. If you're in the mood for something more savory, try blending a scoop of protein powder with a cup of plain almond milk, one tablespoon of almond or peanut butter and a medium-sized banana. Experiment with different fruits and milks until you land on a recipe you enjoy.
Nadia Osman is a California-based writer. She has covered travel, real estate, fashion, fitness and other topics for various online publications. Osman holds a B.A. in history from UC Irvine.