Protein shakes and other Martial Arts supplements are now readily available both online and in health food stores. But do they actually work?

There is a common misconception that drinking protein shakes four times a day will significantly increase your muscle mass without having to actually do any training. Of course this isn’t the case; however, as part of a healthy diet and regular exercise, protein shakes can have some benefit.

According to a recent article in Men’s Health Magazine, protein drinks are best taken half an hour before exercise to maximise any effects. If you leave it too long to train after drinking the shake, you’re unlikely to see any kind of benefit. Sports Dietician, Karen Reid states in the article,

“A shake with high protein and low carbohydrates is not ideal. A lack of carbohydrates can leave you more at risk of muscle damage.”

Protein shakes are designed to help repair muscle so, carbohydrates can actually be helpful. Carbohydrates help the body to produce insulin which speeds up the distribution of nutrients to your muscles.

The key is not to drink as many shakes as possible in a day. The key is to increase your intake of protein at specific times i.e. straight after a workout. Again, if you leave it too long after your workout, you’re unlikely to see any kind of real benefit.

Reid suggests that having a protein shake before bed is also an ideal time;

“You’ll be feeding muscle at a time when your growth hormones are elevated so, it’s a great time to get the best stimulus.”

As with most nutritional supplements, it seems that protein shakes do work, if used correctly, and at the right times. With all the hype of supplements such as quick fix “diet pills” comes the insinuation that taking the pills alone will make a huge difference without having to make changes to your daily diet and fitness regime.

It is important to remember that protein shakes are designed to help repair muscles after a workout which can build muscle quicker. They’re not a quick fix or an alternative to exercise.

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