Let’s say you’re trying to build more muscle, but your daily meals and snacks just don’t cover all the bases or pack enough protein. Along with resistance training, drinking a protein shake is a great way to help you become stronger and grow muscle mass. Plus, when you’re short on time after a workout, you can easily whip up this shake and get your protein on the go!
Protein plays a huge role in developing and maintaining strong muscles, as well as regulating lean body massaccording to Brittany Dunn, MS, RDN, CDa registered dietitian with our Board of Medical Experts specializing in sports nutrition.
“Protein provides amino acids…when engaging in strength training, the body creates tiny tears in the muscles [and] And then the amino acids will surround the tears to repair them.”
Here’s how to build the best protein shake for your muscles, and for more tips on building muscle, check out The Best Eating Habits for Stronger Muscles, says the dietitian.
Find the right protein powder.
The first step in putting together a protein shake that will serve up your muscle building macros is choosing the best supplement: a protein powder supplement. Dan saysBCAAs and leucine are good things to look for in protein powders. Both contribute to muscle mass, growth, and recovery.”
Protein powders can also provide you with several vitamins and minerals — such as zinc, vitamin A and glutamine — all of which will aid in the recovery phase of muscle growth, she explains. These components of protein powder are beneficial because they can help regulate wound healing, manage oxidative stress, support tissue growth, and maintain cortisol levels and inflammation.
Whey is one of the most widely used protein powders for strengthening and adjusting body composition. It’s a milk-based protein that’s easy to digest for many people and has fast-absorbing properties, according to Harvard Health.
Mix antioxidants, fats, and carbohydrates.
Other ingredients to consider in protein shakes are foods that fall into one of these three categories: antioxidants, healthy fats, and/or complex carbohydrates. These nutrients “promote muscle growth by nourishing your cells, reducing exercise-induced inflammation, and promoting recovery,” Healthline reports.
This can be anywhere from spinach (or other leafy greens), nut butter, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts, seeds, and even cinnamon powder. Depending on the blending liquid you choose, you can substitute cow’s milk with an alternative option – such as almond, oat, soy or coconut milk – to lower your shake’s total calories without losing essential nutrients (calcium for example).
A shake can provide the protein needed for muscle recovery.
How often should you drink the blended concoction to fuel better muscle growth? Research suggests that you should consume at least “20 to 30 grams of protein at a time to maximize protein synthesis,” says Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND, another registered dietitian and bestselling author in Nutrition Content.
Amidor explains that you should always count on incorporating more whole foods and protein-rich foods first, but when it comes to increasing muscle mass, using a protein powder (in the form of a shake) can help.
The moment you’ve been waiting for – recipes! Get our dark chocolate, banana, walnut, and paleo protein shake recipe to get you started on your muscle building goals.
Jordan Summers Marquillier
Jordan Summers-Marquilier was born and raised in San Jose, California and now works as a writer in New York, New York. Read more