There have been a lot of studies written recently on the benefits – or non-benefits, to be precise – of fitness drinks and protein shakes
I thought I’d take this opportunity to collate all those studies into something that isn’t full of long words and dense language (or not too much anyway).
Fitness drinks and protein shakes have different uses. Let’s take fitness drinks first. There are three sorts of fitness drinks:
- Isotonic: these boost your carbohydrates and replace your fluids after a workout.
- Hypertonic: These contain more carbs than isotonic drinks.
- Hypotonic: These drinks have fewer carbs. Instead they are designed to replace fluids quickly after a workout.
The problem with fitness drinks is that actually, unless you’ve been working out for longer than two hours, your body doesn’t need them. The body should contain enough glucose to keep you going for two hours. In taking fitness drinks, the carbs are an ‘inferior’ form of glucose, so you’re just replacing the calories you’ve lost. It has also been proven that fitness drinks are just as, if not more, unhealthy than soda, causing the decay of tooth enamel.
If, however, you far prefer fitness drinks to water, it’s easy to make your own instead of buying expensive drinks every time you workout. Simply mix some ordinary fruit squash or fruit juice with a little salt and pop it in a bottle. Simple!
Now, onto protein shakes. These are obviously useful for giving your body an extra boost of protein. After a workout your muscles will inevitably have some small rips and tears. When you take protein shakes they give your muscles an extra boost as they heal, helping to make them bigger. However, again they are not terribly healthy.
So what’s the alternative? Well, a rather unusual contender has stepped up – chocolate milk. You can even make your own by adding chocolate protein powder to normal milk. However, milk contains slow recovery protein rather than whey, which is used in shakes and works quickly on muscles for a fast recovery. As such a good diet might include a protein shake after a workout, chicken for dinner and milk before bed, so you ingest a balanced mix of healthy/less healthy and fast acting/slow acting proteins.
One final thing to think about is how to balance your carbs and protein intake after a workout. You will inevitably lose a lot of fluids after a workout, which will need to be replaced. Depending on how long you’ve been exercising you may also need to replace your carbohydrates. However, be aware that eating too much protein will cancel out any carbs you have recently eaten. So, if you decide to drink fitness drinks rather than water, leave a gap between drinking those and having your protein shake.
That’s all for now, folks. Let us know what your drink of choice is after a workout, and how you balance your carbohydrate and protein intakes, in the comments below.