The reasons to work out can vary, but looking good is a common one. The key to this goal is muscle to sculpt and define your body. The abuse your muscles receive during a workout causes small tears in the individual fibers that make up the muscle. These small tears require the amino acids in protein to heal and increase in mass. Drinking a protein shake after your workout aids the healing process. When you should drink the shake depends on the type of protein it contains.
Benefits of Protein
Muscles require protein to heal the damage caused by exercise. Without adequate protein, your muscles would heal more slowly, and if you work out before the muscle has had a chance to heal, it could lead to injury -- as well as slow down the muscle-building process. It is imperative to feed your muscles protein throughout the day, including immediately after you work out. This starts the healing and rebuilding process.
Types of Protein
Only a few types of the many varieties of protein find their way into protein shakes. The most common types are whey, soy, rice and casein protein. Whey and casein are found in milk. Whey is the most common type added to shakes. Soy comes from soybeans and rice from, well, rice. All types provide your body with the nutrients needed after a workout, but they have different absorption rates. The absorption rate of protein is an important factor when determining when to drink your shake.
How fast your body absorbs protein will determine when you should drink your shake after you complete your workout. One way experts determine a protein’s absorption rate is through its biological value. Whey protein has a high BV, which means it absorbs into your body faster than the low BV of its soy counterpart. Although BV is a widely used method to determine a protein’s absorption rate, it is not the sole factor in determining when you should drink your shake.
Even the fastest-absorbing proteins take time. Therefore, it is best if you drink your shake immediately after you finish your workout. This gives your body the fuel it needs as fast as possible. Because your body requires protein throughout the day, you should eat other types of protein besides a shake. Good sources of protein include chicken, pork and fish. Beans, whole grains, soy and lowfat dairy are good sources of protein if your diet excludes meat.
Lynda Schwartz is a fitness professional who began writing in 2004. She has contributed to "Women's Day" and "Good Housekeeping" magazines, as well as covered fitness and well-being for online publications. Schwartz holds a bachelor's degree in exercise science and health promotion.