Protein, carbohydrates, and creatine are three common ingredients for pre- and post-workout shakes. And when you drink them in relation to getting your exercise in does in fact impact which ingredients you should include.
Here’s a breakdown of when you want each ingredient and why.
Related: Protein Shakes – A Dummy’s Guide
Protein should be added to your post-workout shake. Getting your protein in after you work out will help build and repair your muscles, strengthening your body’s recovery signals.
You can have carbs either before or after your workout. Including carbs in your pre-workout shake will help you train harder by providing energy for your muscles and reducing your feeling of fatigue.
But carbs taken in as part of your post-workout shake will help refill any depleted energy stores inside your muscle cells.
Related: 20 Healthy Protein Smoothie Recipes
The timing of creatine related to exercise doesn’t matter, but what does matter is the timing of your creatine supplementation in relation to the amount of carbs in your shake. Carbs increase insulin, and insulin can help drive creatine into your muscle cells.
This is why you want to mix carbs into whichever shake is going to contain carbs.
There’s no need to have both a pre-and post-workout shake, so you can just choose based on your preferred ingredients or needs. For example, if you know you haven’t gotten enough protein in so far (we recommend about 30g at each meal), go with a post-workout shake.
Words by Mike Roussell