Working out is no easy task — In addition to choosing how, when and how much to exercise, there's countless advice out there about what kind of supplements to take to get the most out of your workout. Strangers on the internet may swear by protein supplements but do they really help? Here's what the actual experts have to say about your post-workout protein shake.
"As far as protein is concerned it all depends on what your goal is," Nick Johnson, a certified strength and conditioning coach and the vice president of Halevy Life, a gym in New York City, told Mic. "Do I recommend protein supplementation? Sometimes."
According to Johnson, protein needs are influenced by how much, and how often, someone is exercising. "If you're training 3-5 days a week ... I would say if you're getting less than half a gram [of protein] per pound of body weight, [supplements] would be something to look into."
Some people may be eating enough protein in their normal diet to meet their needs. According to Johnson, that's just fine.
"If you can get everything that you need out of your natural diet, I would say go with it," Johnson said, but cautioned that, for many people, there just isn't enough time in the day to eat meals with enough protein in them, in which case supplements can be helpful. "A protein shake is a very viable option and a very good option for recovery ... it's better than nothing."
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As far as what kinds of protein supplements to get? "I would recommend a whey protein supplement," Johnson said. "Whey protein has the highest concentration of leucine, the amino acid most responsible for muscle protein growth. It is easy, cheap and there are some really good tasting options."
Jennifer Nyp, a personal trainer and owner of Zen Girl Fitness in New York City, told Mic that the only protein supplement she recommends to her clients is whey protein.
"Just 1.2 to 1.5 grams/kg of whey protein combined with strength training has been shown to improve athletic performance," Nyp told Mic via email. "Adding a whey protein shake as a snack can result in muscle and weight gain."
While protein supplements can help you get the protein you need to build your body back up after a tough workout, there's no sense in overdoing it. "I don't know if you should be drinking five protein shakes a day," Johnson told Mic. "At a certain point you go past the threshold where it benefits you."