Throughout the winter, I was focusing more of my energy on weight training in order to ‘bulk up,’ and I’d like to think a lot of my recent progress in the muscle department has to do with my protein consumption. I watch my fat, carb, and sodium intakes as much as possible so I can up my ratio of healthy proteins. A quick and easy way to accomplish this is chugging a delicious whey protein shake after each of my workouts. After all, everyone knows that protein is a weight lifter’s best friend. And lately, it seems like there’s a huge marketing push to convince everyone that protein is their best friend.
All of this got me thinking: now that I’m hitting the running trail more aggressively and training for a half marathon, is the post-workout protein shake serving any purpose following an intense cardiovascular workout?
Let’s investigate the potential benefits of a cardio/protein combo, shall we?
Before we get down to business, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page as far as what cardiovascular exercise is.
Cardio exercises include the obvious ones such as running, biking, or swimming. But more unique cardio training includes stair climbing, rowing, kickboxing, or jump roping. Basically, it’s any exercise that you can perform for an extended amount of time that increases your heart rate and burns energy in the form of calories. And this includes light to moderate, or even high, intensity workouts that usually promote weight loss.
When you engage in a cardio workout, you’ll usually work up a good sweat, causing your body to lose water and electrolytes. And just like strength training, you’ll also break down muscle tissue and deplete a variety of important nutrients. This is why it’s super important to keep your nutrient levels in check when regularly performing cardio exercise.
Fortunately, whey protein is a great way to help your body recover from a cardio workout.
A Protein Punch
So the shakes I consume after my running sessions are actually doing my body a lot of good. This is because the whey protein helps to replenish the liquid and nutrients depleted during my workout. It’s also speeding up the muscle recovery process and enhancing the effects of cardio training.
Now remember that I’m consuming my shake almost immediately after I’ve finished my workout. Some people would debate me on the importance of this, but here’s why I try to make sure I get that protein punch within a half an hour of my treadmill session.
First of all, the run gets my metabolism going, making it much easier for my body to digest a post-workout protein meal. And it also helps that my meal is in the form of a whey protein shake that’s even easier to digest than other protein options such as a stick of beef jerky or a handful of almonds.
My next concern is amino acids. Whey protein contains all nine essential amino acids, which is totally awesome, because that’s exactly what our muscles need—especially when recovering from a vigorous cardio session. It’s also helpful that these amino acids are quickly getting where they need to since whey protein is fast absorbing.
So there you have it, folks. Just because you’re not doing some heavy lifting in the gym doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits of some nutritious whey protein, especially if it’s a post-workout punch.
With all of that being said, it looks like I’m off to order another bag of USANA’s delicious, all natural, and gluten-free Chocolate Whey Nutrimeal™. Not only is it super tasty, but it contains 15 grams of whey protein and 8 grams of healthy dietary fiber. Pretty cool, right?
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