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What to Drink After a Workout: A Guide on Post-Workout Protein Drinks

Having the right post-workout nutrition is essential for maximizing your results! After a tough workout, your body is in repair mode, and protein is the key building block to get those muscles bouncing back stronger. Let's break down the science behind post-workout protein drinks, some considerations to keep in mind, and the different types of protein powder you can choose from.

a bottle of post-workout protein drink

The Benefits of Post-Workout Protein Drinks

There's a reason why you'll find shaker bottles in so many people's gym bags! Protein drinks are a staple for a well-rounded fitness regimen. Here are the major benefits protein provides:

Muscles on the Mend

The cycle of breaking down and rebuilding muscle is integral to growing muscle. As you workout, microtears develop in the muscle, which get rebuilt during the recovery phase. That's where protein comes in. It provides essential amino acids, the building blocks your body uses to repair and rebuild those microscopic tears. By drinking a protein supplement, you can give your body the tools to recover faster, meaning you'll get back in the gym feeling stronger and ready to tackle your next challenge. 

Reduced Soreness

We've all been there – that post-workout soreness that makes climbing the stairs feel like scaling Mt. Everest. Protein can actually help reduce this post-workout muscle soreness. By providing the necessary building blocks for repair, protein may lessen the inflammatory response in your muscles, leading to an easier recovery. 

Building Bigger and Better Muscles

Strength training is all about stressing your muscles to force them to adapt and grow stronger. Protein stimulates muscle hypertrophy - increasing not only muscle mass, but strength and endurance. By providing a readily available source of amino acids after your workout, you're giving your body what it needs to not just repair, but also build new muscle tissue. 

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Protein Shakes

Protein shakes can be a convenient and effective way to refuel after exercise, but it's important to be mindful of a few things. First, overdoing it on protein with other unbalanced macros (fats and carbs) may lead to unwanted weight gain. Remember, protein has calories, and exceeding your daily needs can cause you to pack on some extra pounds if you don't have the right balance across the board. 

Second, protein shakes shouldn't replace whole foods in your diet. They might be a great post-workout option and way to add those missing macros, but they shouldn't be your only source of nutrients. A balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is still essential for overall health and well-being. 

Different Types of Protein Powder

Choosing the right protein powder for you is going to depend largely on your diet, including any allergens or sensitivities. One of the biggest distinctions for protein powders is whether they are made with dairy (milk) or not. Whey and casein are derived from dairy, as well as some lactose-free options. Consider how you feel after taking your protein powder, if your powder is causing you some stomach problems, try swapping it out with a different type.

Whey Protein

  • Characteristics: A fast-absorbing, protein, making it ideal for post-workout recovery.

  • Best Used: Immediately after workouts to quickly replenish protein stores.

Casein Protein

  • Characteristics: Slow-digesting, providing a steady release of amino acids.

  • Best Used: As a pre-bedtime supplement, aiding in muscle recovery during sleep.

Lactose-Free Protein Options

  • Importance: Essential for those with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies.

  • Options: Plant-based proteins like soy, pea, and rice (see below), as well as specialized lactose-free whey and casein proteins.

Dairy-Free Protein Options

  • Soy Protein: A complete plant-based protein, beneficial for vegans and those with lactose intolerance.

  • Pea Protein: High in BCAAs, suitable for muscle building and repair.

  • Rice Protein: Often combined with pea protein for a more complete amino acid profile.

Protein Intake: How Much and When?

The optimal amount of protein post-workout depends on individual factors like body weight, workout intensity, and overall diet. A general recommendation is 20-30 grams of protein after exercise. The timing is crucial, with the ideal window being within 30 to 60 minutes post-workout, known as the anabolic window, where muscles are primed to absorb nutrients



Fit Societe & Driven Nutrition: A Partnership for Your Fitness

By collaborating with Driven Nutrition, Fit Societe ensures that our members have access to high-quality, scientifically-backed supplements. This partnership enables us to offer great deals and trusted products, aligning with our commitment to holistic health and fitness. Ask your FS coach about driven nutrition at your next visit!

Work Smarter with Protein Drinks

Understanding the nuances of post-workout nutrition is key in achieving your fitness goals. At Fit Societe, we're dedicated to guiding you through this journey, ensuring you're well-equipped with the right knowledge and supplements. Here's to enhanced recovery, performance, and achieving your personal best!


Scott Ryan, CSCS, *RSCC, CF-L1, CF-W, BFRC, Director- Fit Societe

A professional coach who specializes in Applied Functional Science, Strength and Conditioning, CrossFit L1, and Olympic Lifting. He attended New England College in New Hampshire obtaining a bachelor's degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis on Biomechanics. He has a passion for injury prevention and coaching, as he was a collegiate athlete who suffered sports injuries. His goal is to get athletes back to optimal shape as well as prevent future injuries.

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