Just got done hitting the weights? Perfect time to pound a protein shake. Just finished a 5-mile run? Another great time for some protein powder. No, seriously. Protein supplements are generally marketed to bodybuilders and power athletes, and for good reason. However, a recent comprehensive and systematic meta-analysis published in the journal Sports Medicine suggests that protein supplements are valuable for all types of athletes who train with high intensity, progressive resistance and high volume. In the article, researchers from the Military Nutrition Division of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Massachusetts, suggest that protein supplementation promotes greater gains in lean mass and muscle strength for trained and untrained individuals. This was already well-known, of course, but the research team also noted that supplementing with protein enhances gains in aerobic and anaerobic power — meaning a tub of protein powder can benefit the endurance athlete just as well as the gym rat.
Action Point: Regardless of what your goals may be, we suggest using a high-quality protein blend (whey, casein and egg protein, for example) to promote increases in muscle performance and recovery. Take at least three 25- to 50-gram servings spread throughout the day. On training days, be sure to gulp one shake 30 minutes before your workout and another immediately after.