Thursday, March 14, 2019

Protein Shakes May Not Do Much for Your Muscles After a Workout

  1. A new study finds evidence that protein shakes may not help your muscles recover much after a grueling workout.
  2. Participants reported muscle soreness and reductions in muscle power and function after working out and having a protein shake.
  3. The study was small, and experts say more research is needed.

If you reach for a protein shake after a session of heavy weights at the gym, you may not be doing the good you think you are.

Indeed, weightlifters and even everyday gym goers have been told that the key to successful muscle repair after any weight-intensive session is to drink protein shakes.

But a new study from the United Kingdom’s University of Lincoln suggests that protein shakes are no more effective at rebuilding muscle and boosting recovery than high-carbohydrate drinks, like sports drinks.

Indeed, the British researchers say that neither whey protein-based shakes nor milk-based shakes enhanced muscle recovery or eased soreness compared to a carbohydrate-only drink.

That refutes a great deal of exercise knowledge, so it’s important to look at the specifics of the study.

What’s the best post-workout recovery drink?

  • For the study, which was published in the Journal of Human Kinetics, researchers recruited 30 males between the ages of 20 and 30. All participants had at least a year’s experience with resistance training prior to the study.
  • The 30 participants were divided into three groups. Each group was assigned to consume either a whey hydrolysate drink, a milk drink, or a flavored carbohydrate drink after a prescribed intensive resistance training session.
  • After the workout, the participants were re-tested and asked to rate their levels of muscle soreness on a scale from zero (“no muscle soreness”) to 200 (“muscle soreness as bad as it could be”). The researchers also asked the participants to complete a series of strength and power assessments, including throwing a medicine ball while seated and jumping as high as possible from a squatted position.
  • At the start of the study, all participants rated their muscle soreness between 19 and 26, or quite low. Then, they reassessed those measurements 24 and 48 hours after the weight-lifting session. All participants rated their soreness above 90, which is quite high.

What’s more, in the physical assessments, the participants showed reductions in muscle power and function.

However, there was no difference in recovery response and soreness scores between the three different groups. That means, the study’s authors concluded, that there is no additional benefit in consuming protein shakes or drinks for the sake of muscle recovery.

“While proteins and carbohydrates are essential for the effective repair of muscle fibers following intensive strength training, our research suggests that varying the form of protein immediately following training does not strongly influence the recovery response or reduce muscle pain,” lead author Thomas Gee, PhD, program leader of strength and conditioning in sport at the University of Lincoln, said in a statement. “We would hypothesize that well balanced daily nutrition practices would influence recovery from delayed onset muscle soreness to a greater extent.”

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