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The Ultimate Protein Shake Guide: Here's When To Take Your Protein Shake

4th February 2022

4th February 2022

By Innermost

Protein is an essential part of the human diet and should be incorporated no matter your fitness or dieting goals. However, there are always different opinions on the best way to get the optimal amount of protein into your diet. If you’re someone who is looking to get lean through fitness, you may be undercompensating for the amount of protein that you actually need in your diet, for fears of becoming ‘bulky’. But, we should always be taking into consideration that protein isn’t just for building muscle, it is actually a macronutrient that makes up the enzymes that help your body to power many of the chemical reactions inside of the body.

If you’re taking protein to try and bulk build muscle, you’ll know that intaking an optimal amount of protein, such as The Strong Protein makes a serious difference with your results. After all, incorporating additional protein is also an efficient way of aiding with your recovery, meaning you’re working smarter and not harder.

The Anabolic Window

If you’ve just started taking your fitness seriously, you may not have heard of the Anabolic Window. Basically, the theory is that after exercise, your body is in an anabolic state. This is where the small molecules in your body grow into bigger, more complex molecules, forming brand new tissues and cells. As muscles are a type of tissue, they are indeed included in this category (meaning your gains grow after exercise). The anabolic process is fuelled by intake of carbs and yep, you guessed it, protein!

The anabolic window is believed to be a limited time frame of around 30 minutes post-exercise, and it is important to use this window to your advantage once you have finished your sport session.

So, When Is The Best Time To Drink A Protein Shake?

The Best time to take your protein shake is during the anabolic window, this will really maximise your chances of muscle growth and aid your body in getting the results of all of your hard work! A handy, post-workout tip is to pack a gym bag with a protein shaker and your protein powder of choice. This way, you can easily access your not-so-secret weapon!

What About Before I Work Out?

The foods and supplements you should be intaking pre workout and post workout are almost a complete opposite to each other, but fuelling your body is the one thing that both of these time frames have in common. Before a workout, instead of intaking protein, you should be focussing on energy boosting foods or supplements. This way, you can push your body even further when doing sustained activities and truly activate your inner super-human! Carbohydrates will also naturally help to boost your energy before a workout. The best carbohydrates to intake are non-refined carbohydrates such as:

  • Non starchy vegetables – These are veggies like celery, tomatoes, spinach etc
  • Wholegrains – You can easily find healthier, wholegrain alternatives to cult favourites like pasta, rice, and bread
  • Legumes – Like lentils, kidney beans and baked beans. This is perfect for all beans-on-toast fans!

To Summarise

Essentially, protein is important for everyone and not just those who have goals in the gym. However, if you are looking to maximise the amount of gains you get from your session, be sure to take your protein within the 30 minute window post workout. This way, you’re helping your body to multiply the cells needed to grow muscle. Easy, right!

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From the Bedroom to the Gym: Is Your Sex Life Affecting Your Workout Performance?
The relationship between sex and workout performance is one that’s long been debated by scientists and fitness fanatics alike. It’s complicated and multifaceted, so answering the question of whether your sex life is affecting your training is difficult. That said, today we’re going to take a look at a variety of evidence, both academic and anecdotal, as well as several different scenarios and at least try to reduce some of the mystery around the subject. First, it helps to understand what’s actually happening to the body, both physically and psychologically, during both activities.   The Effects of Sex on the Body Sexual activity causes several changes to occur in the body:   Physical Changes That Occur During Sex During sexual activity and the lead up to it, the human body undergoes a process known as the sexual response cycle. This is the case for both males and females, though the cycle can be highly individual and may not be the same each time for each person. Describing the full sexual response cycle is beyond the scope of this article, however it consists of 4 phases: Desire Arousal Orgasm Resolution Factors such as elevated heart rate, increased blood flow and pressure and heightened muscle tension all come into play. If you’d like to read about the sexual response cycle in more detail, check out this great article from Cleveland Clinic.   Psychological Changes That Occur During Sex Several psychological changes occur both during and after sex. Most notable are the release of endorphins and oxytocin, which are associated with improved mood and a better sense of wellbeing. These are also responsible for reduced stress levels, which brings a multitude of additional benefits that are of particular interest to those of us participating in regular training and exercise. Cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress, is catabolic in high levels, meaning it can cause the breakdown of lean tissue. So, whilst it is unclear whether sex itself affects workout performance, the reduction in stress levels it may bring is definitely beneficial for preserving our results!   The Effects of Exercise and Training on the Body Exercise and training also cause the body to undergo a number of changes. These occur both during and after the physical activity. There are in fact a number of similarities in changes that happen during exercise and sex:   Physical Changes That Occur During Exercise The physical changes that happen in the body vary based on the type of exercise being undertaken, however, there are some that are common to exercise in general: Increased heart rate Increased blood flow, especially to the muscles Faster, deeper breathing due to additional oxygen needs Heightened activity within the circulatory, respiratory, musculoskeletal and endocrine systems A full summary of the changes that occur within these systems can be found here. More aerobically demanding exercise will, of course, place greater emphasis on the circulatory and respiratory systems as well as causing fat to be metabolised as an energy source. Resistance training, which often relies more heavily on the lactate and creatine phosphate energy systems, instead promotes greater muscular and endocrine (hormone) activity. Note the common physical changes between sex and exercise here, as they do crossover!   Psychological Changes That Occur During Exercise The psychological changes that occur during exercise are similar to those experienced during sexual activity and are mostly related to the release of endorphins and other ‘feelgood’ hormones. These help to regulate mood, and it is common knowledge that frequent exercise and leading an active, healthy lifestyle promotes a feeling of wellbeing.   Does Sex Affect Our Workouts? This is where things become complicated. Though extensive studies have been done on the subject, the results of these have varied massively. We must also take into account the experience of individuals, and this anecdotal evidence again has huge variance. Let’s look at both:   Sex and Training: What the Science Says Scientific studies on the relationship between sex and training are contradictory at best. There’s no denying the positive benefits of both activities, particularly from a psychological perspective, but as for the effect of sex on actual performance in the gym the results are inconclusive. A study, published in April 2021, by Kirecci, Albayrak and co. examined the effects of sexual activity of 50 men in the 24 hours prior to training on lower body strength. The study measured effects by having the men perform 3 separate squat sessions, each at the same time of day. Each of these sessions occurred after participating in or abstaining from sexual activity the night before. The men performed 5 sets of 5 repetitions of their maximum squat weight during these sessions and the difference in weight lifted was observed. The study concluded that ‘sexual intercourse within 24 hours before exercise [has a] detrimental effect on lower extremity muscle force, which suggests that restricting sexual activity before a short-term activity may be necessary.’ Aside from this study, most others found either no notable relationship between sex and athletic performance. A meta-analysis of 9 crossover studies, conducted by Zavorsky and Brooks and published on 16 September 2022, confirms this. The analysis concluded that ‘The results demonstrate that sexual activity within 30 min to 24 h before exercise does not appear to affect aerobic fitness, musculoskeletal endurance, or strength/power.’ This is perhaps more notable, because these studies incorporated different types of exercise and were not restricted purely to a strength/power based activity like squats.   Anecdotal Evidence: What About the Experiences of Real Gym Goers? The anecdotal evidence is, as expected, highly individualised. However, there tends to be a bias against the results of most studies, particularly in those participating in sports involving strength and aggression. For example, many fighters claim that they perform better when they abstain from sex in the days leading up to a contest. Similarly, bodybuilding forums are full of debate on this topic and many claim they note a significant decrease in motivation to train at maximum intensity after sexual activity. It has been hypothesised that this may be due to a downregulation in testosterone production after sex; during orgasm the mineral zinc is released in the body and this is also a precursor for natural testosterone production in the body and may, therefore, provide some reasoning as to the experience of many trainees.   Key Takeaways The relationship between sex and workout performance will always be a complicated one. The effects of one on the other in terms of physical fitness and, in particular, mental wellbeing, are clear, but when it comes to actual performance this appears to be highly individual. We’d advise doing what feels best for you but not worrying too much about it. Instead, prioritise your nutrition and make sure you’re fuelling your workouts properly. While you’re here, why not take a look at the Innermost range? We’re proud to be completely transparent about the ingredients in our products and we always ensure they’re of the highest quality. Check us out, and be sure to get in touch if you have any questions! Read more