Protein shakes are all the rage among bodybuilders, CrossFitters, and athletes around the world. They're a quick and easy source of protein, making them ideal for those who are trying to boost their pre-workout energy levels, struggling to make it through a tough workout, or provide their body with the nutrients needed post-workout.
But how can protein shakes help you build muscle? Simple: they provide you with easily processed and absorbed protein!
There are many sources of protein on the planet, and one of the most popular is red meat. When you eat a juicy steak, you are consuming a good deal of protein, but also a lot of fat along with it. Your body takes time to break down the fat and protein in order to absorb it, so the nutrients don't reach your muscles for a while after eating.
With protein shakes, on the other hand, you can get fast-acting proteins (whey protein chief among them) that are easily absorbed into your body with little to no wait time. You can also find proteins that are absorbed slowly into your body, giving you a steady supply of amino acids overnight or all day long. That is one of the main advantages of using protein shakes to build muscle: you can select the type of protein you want.
Everyone knows that protein is needed for the production of muscles. The amino acids you eat are used to produce ATP energy (the only energy your muscles can burn), hormones (such as testosterone, which leads to muscle growth), enzymes, and immune system components. But your body also needs protein in order to repair the micro-damage that has been done to the muscle fibers during your workout. Thanks to the amino acids in the proteins you eat, your body can repair and expand your muscle fibers--increasing the energy storage and thereby boosting strength, stamina, and endurance.
A pre-workout protein shake will give your body a quick influx of amino acids, which will then be turned into ATP energy. When you hit the gym 60 to 90 minutes later, your muscles will be all "powered up" and ready to get through that workout.
A mid-workout protein shake is ideal for those who are doing a workout longer than 60 minutes. The body usually stores enough energy for 60 to 90 minutes worth of full-on exercise, but having a protein shake mid-workout can give you the energy you need to power through and keep working through an intense training session.
A post-workout protein shake will give your body the nutrients it needs to repair the damage done to your muscle tissue, leading to enhanced muscle growth and an increase in strength, stamina or endurance (depending on what type of training you do).
A pre-bed protein shake will give your body a steady supply of protein that it can use to make repairs to your body overnight. Your body does most of its healing as you sleep, so giving it protein before bed is a good way to ensure maximum body repair and growth.
As you can see, protein shakes are definitely a good way to get more protein and ensure that your body has all the amino acids it needs for serious muscle growth and improved overall health.
Shannon Clark holds a degree in Exercise Science from the University of Alberta, where she specialized in Sports Performance and Psychology. In addition to her degree, she is an AFLCA certified personal trainer and has been working in the field for over 12 years now. She is a regular contributor to Bodybuilding.com and has also been named 'Writer Of The Year' two times running. She's also contributed well over 400 articles to a variety of different websites dedicated towards muscle building and athletic performance.