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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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This Is How Sleep Helps You Recover From Exercise And Injury
We’ve all been there. You go for a hard workout, pushing yourself as far as you can and … by the end your reward is a new personal best and a series of aching muscles (or worse an injury). In these scenarios, it can feel frustrating. After such an exercise high, the first thing you want to do is to beat your record again and yet you’re now stuck with the muscle pain wondering how long it will take to heal. The fact is that regardless of an individual’s workout experience, sport recovery is fundamental to muscle repair. While there are many ways to speed up the recovery process like taking our Innermost Recover Capsules or slowly rebuilding the muscles through light walks, most of us frequently neglect the most important form of recovery which is adequate sleep. While one-night of low sleep alone won’t impact long-term recovery, figures show that 77% of adults are not sleeping the recommended 8 hours a day and as many as 18% sleep less than 6 hours. As we’ve previously written about the benefits that exercise can have on sleep, we feel its only fair to highlight the importance that sleep has on workout recovery. Why is sleep so important in recovery? As frustrating as it can be, it’s nigh-on impossible to quickly recover from muscle pain and continue to smash those PBs without adequate rest. While getting a good amount of sleep can seem like a small afterthought (perhaps even a luxury) when we have to fit it around our busy lives, a decent night’s rest is where the body is best at recovering the soft and neural tissues after an intense workout. But just why is that? How is it your body heals faster during sleep and what is the science behind it?    Increased Blood flow Interestingly, this occurs during Non-Rem Stage 3 of the sleep cycle in which the body is in the deepest part of sleep. During this stage the body priorities the repairing and regrowth of body tissue, as well as building bone and muscle (sounds like a good exercise-recovery plan to me). While it might seem like it should be the opposite, the faster recovery can largely be attributed to the increased blood flow and therefore greater flow of oxygen and nutrients to the damaged muscles during this sleep stage. Recovery Hormones A well-rested sleep - in line with the internal body clock - also plays a part in the production and regulation of several hormones that stimulate muscle recovery. During the deep stages of Non-REM sleep for instance the pituitary gland aids in the repairing of muscles through the release of growth hormones. Evidence also shows that a well-rested night contributes to improved performance and pain sensitivity as the hormone prolactin – released during this process – regulates muscle inflammation and allows the body to heal itself effectively. Faster reflex times Another perhaps overlooked benefit of sleep on an individual’s recovery are the improvements to cognitive response it can bring during the muscle rehabilitation process. A faster reflex time is a good example of this. In truth, during a light workout after injury the last thing you want to do is put unwanted pressure on a muscle. An improved reflex time allows an individual to react faster and with clearer judgment to any potential hazards and avoiding a recovery setback through injury inflammation. Improved Mental Wellbeing We know we’ve mentioned this before, but a key benefit of exercise is the positive impact it can have on mental wellbeing – thanks to our good endorphin friends serotonin and dopamine. That’s just another reason why recovering from any injury can be a tough challenge; you lose the elation of a phenomenon like runners high and suddenly, your mood can begin to dip. Getting into the routine of a good night’s sleep can actually contribute to improved mental clarity and wellness. This is because the brain’s ability to process positive emotional information is improved during REM - which occurs more frequently from longer sleep. How to get the best possible sleep While it’s true that a deep sleep is really important to recovering from injury, all this means nothing if you’re tossing and turning all night. To this end, there are a few changes surrounding sleep conditions that can vastly improve an individual’s quality of sleep. Sleeping Comfort The idea of comfort being tied to good sleep, who would have guessed? But you’d be surprised how often we take comfort for granted, especially during period of muscle fatigue or after an injury. While the Mayo Clinic recommends sleeping on your side to improve airway clearance, you should try and sleep in a position that best accommodates the muscle injury – the last thing anyone wants to do is to strain the muscle further during a night’s sleep. If you’re not sure on the best position to not further aggravate an injury, consider seeking advise from your doctor or a medical professional. It’s also a good idea to try and invest in a quality mattress that offers healthy pressure relief on injury pain points to better optimise sleep recovery.    Sleeping Environment Often times, the environment with which we sleep in can be just as important as the bed itself in getting a good night’s rest and repairing the muscles. We’d recommend trying to create a restful, cool, and dark environment away from any reminders of day stresses. This does also mean not using your phone before going to bed – something we’ve all definitely been guilty of – as the light from the screen can disrupt the production of the hormone melatonin and disrupt the sleep cycle. If you’re finding that you just can’t get good enough sleep, it can be a good idea to plan a sleep schedule each night based around how much rest you think you can get. This can also be tailored to the injury rehabilitation process to ultimately get the most out of sleep recovery. Essentially it’s about balance. Be kind, plan for the days you know you might have impacted sleep and try to avoid any rehabilitation exercises the next day.        How much sleep should I get? The key question here; how much sleep is the right amount to speed up muscle recovery? While it’s recommended that you should aim for at least 7 to 9 hours per night depending on age, the exact time, speed, and extent of muscle repair varies greatly from person to person. For a more definitive answer, we’d recommend contacting your local physiotherapist – or general practitioner – who can give advice more tailored towards your specific injury and rehabilitation requirements.    At the end of all this, we hope this this will help with any current or future muscle injuries you may have. While it might seem strange, the recovery stage of a workout is arguably as important as an individual’s diet and perhaps even the exercise itself. To this end, it can be a good idea to think of the recovery as another stage of the workout process and sleep as the unexplored treasure that will help you smash the next PB.   Interested to learn more about workout recovery? Wondering on the best ways to fuel your next workout? Perhaps you have some amazing and inspired ideas to share? Don’t hesitate to message us over on our Instagram @liveinnermost. Read more
The 4 Steps To Take Immediately After A Workout To Aid Recovery