Protein shakes to do or not to do

Ok, I am up by 6am and working until lunch all while fasting from dinner the night before. My last meal each day is at latest 10pm. So about noon each day I go and run a 10k then back to work eat a sandwich, carrots and sweet potato chips. Come dinner I eat a healthy meal and usually like a Greek yogurt with fresh fruit or granola for dessert. I am just wondering if I need to be adding some protein shakes in there like with lunch and maybe dinner. I also am starting base build low volume again tomorrow. I coach NICA league so ride MTB 2-3 times a week as well. And a lot of time will throw 1-3 rides in with friends a week. Really curious if I am getting enough protein with this work load while completely skipping breakfast.

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A protein shake should only be used as a supplement if you are not getting enough protein in your meals. It’s basically dependent on what your eating in forms of protein.

I usually have a whey protien shake when I know I didn’t have enough protein in my meals.

While this may be true with regards to general maintenance of muscle mass, getting protein into the body right after a workout during the maximum absorption window can aid with recovery, which means less fatigue and better subsequent (next day) workout quality.

I swear by Muscle Milk Coffee House. Just one scoop. Tastes way better than your typical whey products, IMHO, and has a bit of caffeine to boot.


I like protein shakes a lot. That being said, I’m a vegetarian who hasn’t always been good about getting enough protein and have realized how much of a difference it makes.

Now I’ll try to get 10g of protein within an hour before a workout, then another 20g-30g integrated into my post-workout food, and I can go SO much harder and recover way quicker with less of the heavy legs I used to feel.


I would think a workout does warrant a recovery meal, eat a healthy balanced meal, not necessarily a protein supplement. We should be getting protein from whole foods, in especially nuts, seeds, low-fat dairy products, beans, lentils, fish, poultry, eggs, and lean meat.

Certainly if the protein is insufficient in the meals, by all means add the protein supplement.

Protein shake after every work out with carbs to assist. There is a window after working out your body can absorb the food nutrients faster. I try to eat a real meal 1 hour after work out.

I’m a big fan of eating whole foods instead of supplements generally, but I’m not gonna bolt five eggs to get my 30g of protein in the half-hour after a workout while I’m trying to get ready for work. A quality protein supplement in Greek yogurt with muesli and blueberries is easier to make, eat, and digest.

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I think I am going to try the shake with lunch at least and see what if any affects it will have on recovery. Lunch runs really drain the legs for hours so if I can make that a little easier it would be nice.

I have no races or events planned this year so I am just hoping for some growth. I do an enduro every year “Cranksgiving” but that is completely for fun. I want to do longer more punishing events next year. I have my eye on a 50k trail run with about 6000’ elevation. And I also would like to try and complete TNGA next as well.

(Standard caveats about how this is different for women apply.)

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I think you need more protein as you age also.

A good way is to use chronometer or myfitnesspal and keep a food diary for a typical week. This will help you track how much protein you are getting each day. You don’t have to do it for a long period of time but during a typical week will help you to establish your training needs. I do feel there has been a huge push by the fitness industry to make everyone think that they need to supplement with shakes. Bodybuilders or those trying to put on muscle can help but for most athletic people your daily protein requirement can easily be hit by a good wholefoods diet. I’m vegan and I get plenty of protein thorough my normal diet but will occasionally use a shake if I’ve done a very long ride or hard session, strength training or know I’ve had a day where I haven’t had a lot of protein.

One point to note, the post workout window has been shown to actually not be true. There is no significant benefit to taking a protein supplement post workout than consuming protein throughout the day. Carbs to refuel yes, after your workout but protein its ok throughout the day. However, in your case with fasting, I would say that post workout it is essential that you have some protein. It may also be a good idea to consume some protein prior to sleep.

So track your nutrients, this will tell you if you need to up your protein intake. Try and do it through whole foods rather than supplements as you can get additional benefits such as fiber and micro nutrients if it’s through sources like pulses and legumes. There are a number of vegan protein shakes now that can be easier on your stomach. Whey protein can have some nasty side effects in some people and natural sources are so much cheaper for more benefit. The companies selling the protein talk about maximising your post workout window, but this is just marketing talk to get people to hand over their hard earned when they can get it in a much cheaper more nutritious form.

However, protein shakes do have their uses and I’m not against them at all. It can be easy just to swig one quickly if you haven’t got time time to have a proper meal. But people swig them like they are some kind of miracle cure when in fact you can get by quite easily without having to purchase them.


And soon to be 41 I know I am not far from an age where there are those concerns.

I turn 38 this year, and food matters so much. I need all the help I can get.

Most of that page has recommendations that are exactly opposite what I’ve seen about women and endurance training. Low-carb diets are not ideal and can actually be dangerous, and we need more protein before and after workouts, not less. Maybe it’s different for bodybuilding? I don’t have any sort of physiology background and everything I know about anything nutrition-related I read on the internet or in ROAR, so who knows. Buyer beware, YMMV, do the due diligence, and so on.

The main issue is digestion time.

Most whole foods fall outside the max absorption window because of this, especially meats, which can take hours to digest.

So it’s less about the grams, and more about the timing. You don’t need a ton of protein, just a bit at the right time.

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I’m pretty sure the “Anabolic Window” has proven to be a myth regarding protein, and it’s overall protein intake that matters. I think the science is sketchy even for any “recovery” window, although more support for the 4:1 mix.

fwiw I do supplement with protein, but as little as I can above a varied diet. I have scoop in my breakfast (porridge oats with berries/ with low fat greek yogurt fruit salad) which is normally post workout. That is normally enough to get me over the line. Since the podcast a few months back, I also have 10g of collagen pre-workout, with my daily vitamin C dose.


I use SIS Rego chocolate protein recovery shake straight after most runs or rides (all except the very easy ones). It gives me a chance to waste half an hour with Strava, showering etc before having proper food.

My N=1 for its effectiveness is noting the difference when i stopped using it after a year of Ironman training. During that year i’d always knock back a shake and could always bounce back for a second workout every day. When i slowed down my training i figured i could give up the shakes but there was a noticeable difference in how long it would tkae to recover and how tired and beat up i felt. So then i went back to the shakes, and i’m good again. (I’m M nearly 50, so i need more protein anyway being old)

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Yes, studies have shown that nutrient timing may not make much of a difference with regards to lean mass gain.

But that’s not what we’re after here. As cyclists, we generally don’t want any mass gain at all. We want fast recovery in order to crush the next workout, because beyond a certain point, the only way to progress is to pile on volume, and volume can only be achieved through maximum recovery.


I still don’t think the evidence is there that timing is that important, unless you’re trying for two workouts a day (so have to restore before a second one), but then carbs would be more important than protein?


There are a lot of arm chair experts in this one, which isn’t a bad thing. But, I’d urge someone to do there own research and outline what fitness goals you have which will likely dictate your diet. Also you can never get enough protein…and don’t come back with the whole hard on your kidneys thing. No one has ever overdosed due to too much protein that comes from supplements or foods. There are just a lot of variables to consider, which is why you need to outline goals or what is trying to be achieved.