It is very common to question whether or not you should consume a protein shake after a cardio workout. Protein shakes are typically associated with a post-weights workout drink to enhance muscle growth. But what about a cardio session?
Rather than dealing with whether or not you should have a protein shake after your cardio workout, let's actually consider what a protein shake is. A typical post-workout protein shake (whey based protein powder - for example, whey protein concentrate and/or isolate), if highly refined source of dietary protein extracted from cows milk. The benefits include:
- A higher quality source of protein
- A purer source of protein
- A faster absorbing source of protein
Whilst it is common to assume that a protein shake is necessarily designed to build muscle (after all, protein shakes and bodybuilders tend to go hand-in-hand), you may be missing out on many benefits by not consuming a protein shake because of this assumption. These high quality, fast absorbing proteins are highly effective in:
- Boosting the immune system
- Enhancing recovery
- Enhancing your fitness
- Enhancing fat oxidation (or fat breakdown)
- Obviously, enhancing muscle development
Of course, your training needs to be specific to your goals - a protein shake will not aid in you accomplishing your goals if your training is not appropriate.
Following an intense bout of cardiovascular exercise, your body will be in a state of recovery. A protein shake will encourage the recovery process by providing your body with the appropriate nutrients needed to repair damaged cells. A faster recovery will encourage a greater fitness improvement response. It will also facilitate fat loss and minimise muscular breakdown after your workout.
Of course, protein powder in isolation may not have the greatest benefit in a post-workout shake (be it cardio or weights). By combining this with a fast-acting carbohydrate source, insulin release is encouraged which enhances protein uptake into cells. Examples could be dextrose or waxy maize (including BSN Volumaize).