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To be short, yes, but only in certain conditions. I know I've hammered this in throughout this website, but it's important to make sure you're not getting too much protein. The hype behind protein supplements and shakes has evolved around the "idea" that more protein means more muscle - so the more protein you drink the bigger muscles you'll develop. This is, in fact, completely false. There are some instances, however, where protein supplements and shakes may be beneficial...
One of these instances is immediately following a weight lifting session (between 15 - 45 minutes following the workout). To help start the rebuilding process. This is important - your shake is not meant to be an all-encompassing rebuilding fuel for your muscles. This comes from your diet - the shake is meant to simply start the process.
Using protein supplements as your main sources of protein isn't healthy and, as I've mentioned, may be detrimental to your training program. In short, you'll be depriving yourself of other vitamins and nutrients that you'd normally get with food. In other words, most of the protein you eat should come from food - there's no exception to this rule, even if you're a bodybuilder.
If you read the page on learning how to eat healthy, you'll understand that a post-workout snack should include something with a good amount of carbs and with a moderate amount of protein. This is where a protein shake comes in handy, since most of us don't make it back home to the kitchen to fix up a snack in time for the muscle rebuilding process to begin.
Again, the easiest solution is a protein shake with a good amount of carbs and some protein. I know the huge serving sizes on the tub of protein powders is enticing, but you need to cut it down to no more than 10g of protein per shake. Your body simply can't handle more protein than it needs - itll all end up in the urine or in your fat stores.
The purpose of the carbs in your shake is to refill your glycogen storages. This ensures that the rest of your day will be spent burning fats and fats instead of muscle proteins [Rememberthat 1g carbs = 4 calories while 1g fat = 9 calories. Therefore, it takes more than 2g carbs to burn 1g of fat - you need carbs to burn fat!!]
So, protein supplements may be helpful for anyone participating in regular exercise routines to help jump start the muscle building process and the maintenance of liver and muscle glycogen. The main problem is the ingestion of too much protein! If you do, you'll be taking more steps backwards than you will forward.
This is an especially critical muscle-building period. The fact is that most of your muscles' repair and rebuilding processes occur while you're sleeping. This means you may be losing some muscle mass at night if you don't have some protein before you hit the hay.
It's important to recognize that casein protein is the most effective solution for preventing muscle catabolism while you're sleeping or on a brief fast (like 6-8 hours). Shakes that only contain whey protein will be digested too quickly. The likely result is muscle catabolism, fat storage and excretion of amino acids.
It's usually recommended to mix casein (slow-digesting) and whey proteins (fast-digesting) in this shake. This is made easy by many protein powder manufacturers (many of them already contain this blend). But be careful with your serving sizes! Many of these jugs of protein powder have 1 serving equalling 60g of protein. All you really need is a small amount! The majority of this protein will be lost in one way or another...it will not be in your muscle. Do you really think that you can build 60g of muscle mass after one day of weight training?
Your bedtime protein shakes also shouldn't have many carbs (in contrast to your post-workout shake), as these carbs won't have anywhere to go when you're not actively burning energy (especially if your glycogen storage sites are already full from dinner). Undigested carbohydrates may be stored as fat.
But always remember, as a bottom line, don't take in too much protein!
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