Drink This….Look like That…The MOST Important Meal You CANNOT Miss…

Okay, so here’s a spin-off to yesterday’s, Do This…Look like That workout posting…We received so many questions about pre/post workout nutrition advice, that it made sense to give you a guys a full write-up on what you should be consuming before and after your workout. 

Something to keep in mind…developing that lean, mean, athletic physique is accomplished 40% in the gym and 60% by what you put into your mouth.  I’ll save a full general diet plan for another time, so right now, we’re going to focus on two points; pre-exercise nutrition, and post-exercise nutrition (also kn0wn as the MOST important meal of your day). 

Pre-exercise nutrition is fairly simple.  You need to give your body fuel to perform at a high-level, although you don’t want to stuff yourself so you are exercising on a full stomach….that really isn’t pleasant.  You’ll see many bloggers, personal trainers, and self-appointed experts tell you to have a high-sugar, simple carbohydrate meal before exercise.  The idea behind this is you will get a boost of energy which will help you perform at a higher level.  While you will certainly get a boost, you will also get a crash.  Who wants to come down in the middle of a workout and have that lethargic feeling consume their mind and body?  Not me. 

Best bet is to consume a complex carbohydrate focused meal about 2-3 hours before exercise.  Think about having a bowl of oatmeal, some chicken and brown rice, quinoa salad, whole wheat pasta with marinara, etc.  These carbohydrates will take longer to break down into glucose (which is what your body uses for fuel), thus, providing a slower, but steadier stream of energy for you to exercise.  Personally, if even after a good carb meal, I’m still feeling sluggish, I’ll consume about 8 ounces of coffee 20-30 minutes before I work out.  This usually helps give me the jolt I need to perform at a high-level.

Now, on to the real reason you are here…what about that all important post-exercise meal?  Well, let’s wait just one minute.  Before we get that far, I need to have a serious talk with you ladies out there.  I’ve heard it a million times…whether its from someone half way around the world, or a real-life client….you. do. not. want. to. get. big. and. bulky.  I get it.  I really, realllly get it.  Problem is, so many of you women out there are afraid to eat protein because you’re afraid of a) excess calories in your diet and b) you have some crazy idea that protein is basically steroids and adding protein to your diet will make you huge and manly.   

Please, for the love of all things holy, get this idea out of your head.  Understand this; protein drives muscle synthesis.  Your body needs it to create new muscle.  When you work out, you break your muscles down.  When you rest and eat well, you build your muscles up.  You could do all the exercising and weight lifting in the world, but if you aren’t feeding your muscles, you’re seriously wasting your time. 

Fortunately for you ladies out there, the amount of muscle your body creates is much different than what a man creates.  You do not have to worry about packing on pounds of bulky muscle just because you begin upping your protein intake.  I can usually tell just by looking at two different exercisers who is getting enough protein.  One woman will have shapely, firm, and toned limbs, core, and back-side.  The other will usually have soft muscles, non-visible abdominals, and a weak lower body.  Protein is THAT important to develop a sexy physique. 

With that out of the way, lets look at the MOST important meal of the day, which is the post-workout whey protein shake.  The idea behind this is pretty basic; we want to give your starving muscles the protein it needs, along with a simple carb (one of the few times I will recommend a simple carbohydrate) to spike insulin levels moderately, and help drive protein into your muscles.  There are certainly a variety of opinions on this matter, but I’ve seen what works, and those who consume a simple carb+whey protein shake every single time they workout, are looking pretty damn good.

So, to make that power shake after a workout, you need a few things:

  • 12 oz low-fat/skim milk
  • 1 scoop whey protein
  • 1 banana or 1 serving of dried fruit (cherries, apples, blueberries are all great in shakes)

Optional (if you have a hard time gaining weight/muscle):

  • 1/4 cup oats (grind these into a fine powder before adding anything else)

Blend those three ingredients up, add the oats if you feel you could use some extra calories, and drink it down.  Make sure to consume this power shake within 30 minutes of ending your workout.  Make it the first thing you do after you get home and don’t get lazy about it.  A well-timed protein shake taken consistently after each workout really will make the difference between looking average and looking (and feeling) GREAT!

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46 thoughts on “Drink This….Look like That…The MOST Important Meal You CANNOT Miss…”

    1. Personally I go for the EAS whey protein they sell at Costco. The best value by FAR that I’ve ever found. I believe it averages out to about $7.50 per pound, for a 5 pound bag. Other brands seem to sell in the $10+/lb range. I’ve had great results with the type sold at Costco, so never really saw a reason to splurge for the more expensive options. Hope this helps!

      1. This is helpful – thanks! On days that I workout twice (i.e. cardio in the morning, hot yoga or strength training at night), do you recommend drinking a protein smoothie after each workout? Or is it only a big concern for strength training workouts?

      2. If you feel your body can handle the extra calories, I say why not? I usually do cardio or strength training on separate days, but always take whey protein afterwards. Just aim for about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Some body builder types will suggest 2 or even 3 times this….dont listen to it…any more than 1.25/per pound and its going to get flushed out. Hope that answer helps!

  1. I really can’t stand the texture (or taste) of protein shakes…..and they never fill me up and I get super hungry and screw things up…do you have a different alternative rather then a protein shake? For instance, I eat lunch after I work out which consists of a Chicken Salad Sandwich on a 100 calorie Multi-Grain Sandwich Thin (or a small salad with 1 hard boiled egg), and a medium apple with peanut butter (or a grapefruit) Is that good? Or completely horrible…..Thank ya much 😉

    1. The reason the whey protein is so vital is that whey protein mixed with liquid, is especially quick to enter your muscles. You have a 30-45 minute window to get the protein into your starving muscles. While an egg, or chicken salad sandwich, or other forms of solid protein are good choices during the day, your body simply cannot break them down, transport them, and get them into your muscles in time. To take advantage of the post-workout window, you really do need to take a protein in liquid form.

      A few other points to consider; fat slows down the process, thereby making the digest, transport, refuel process even slower. Stay away from fats during your post-workout meal. In addition, dairy proteins are especially slow to break down…so yogurt, etc. on its own will take far too long. Although, a cup of greek yogurt before bed is a great idea as it will slowly fuel you throughout the night.

      My suggestion….try mixing some greek yougurt with your protein in a blender. Blend well. Add your milk and banana, and continue to blend. The yogurt should help smooth things out and hopefully give you a consistency you find a bit more palatable. Also, if protein shakes don’t fill you up, go ahead and have half a sandwich (or even full) with it. Bottomline, I really do recommend the whey protein within 30 minutes of your workout. Hope that helps!

  2. Almost every time I ask a woman who is trying to get back in shape if they drink a protein shake after working out they say no. I didn’t either until a friend invited me to do p90x with her last winter. I really think it helped prevent muscle soreness the next day for me too. Thanks for the article!

  3. It is so nice to hear that women should have a protein shake after working out (hopefully some fears will be erased with your post!) I do have a question. I’ve been on the band wagon for protein for a while but I only do this on weight days. Do you recommend proteins after every workout whether it be cardio or weights? Thanks for the great post!

    1. Hi Kat, thanks for checking out the blog. I do recommend it on both weight AND cardio days. Especially when you are doing HIIT type cardio workouts, you are really breaking your muscles down in a similar way to weight training, so it would be beneficial to your body to have some whey protein after the workout. Thanks again and please keep following our blog! 🙂

  4. Hi there! I prefer to work out first thing in the morning (5:30 or 6 am). I usually just grab a banana on my way to the gym, which usually holds me for a basic strength class or treadmill work out. But for a more intense routine, like the one you recommend, what would be a good pre-option “meal” when I’ve only been awake about 20 minutes before I start to work out?

    1. Personally speaking, I’d go for a cup of coffee to start things off. It would be hard to get a meal in that will hold you over if you’re only up for about 20 minutes. Normally I’d recommend some type of complex carbohydrate roughly 2 hours beforehand. I have a pretty good coffee protein shake recipe…want to give that a try??

      1. If you think it’s a good pre-workout meal, I’m definitely game. Thanks for being so quick to respond!

      2. I’m interested in this coffee protein shake recipe too? Would you mind sending it my way? I work out at 5am and this would be great to make up quick the night before maybe drink it on the way to the gym. I’ll give it a try!

      3. I’ve got a great coffee mocha shake for you…

        1 scoop whey protein
        2parts coffee/1 part milk
        1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
        3 ice cubes.

        Blend well. Enjoy. 🙂

  5. My commute from gym to home sometimes exceeds that window, and so I try to bring protein with me to the gym and so don’t have access to a blender and the other ingredients you mention – Can I still get the same benefits from mixing whey protein with water? (I already know it doesn’t taste as good, but I can deal if I know its just as good for my body )

  6. hello thank you so much for this post. It is so enlightening. I do have a question. You say that we should do 1gr of whey protein per pound of body weight. So If i weigh 180 I should drink 180gr of why protein after each exercise? I just want to make sure i got this right. Also I heard that making the shake with water is better than milk, is there any truth to this?
    Thank you again

    1. I think you got a little confused. You should be consuming 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. So if your total bodyweight is 180, you would want to aim for 180 grams of protein a day. This total protein can come from whey shakes, chicken breast, fish, etc. Definitely don’t consume 180 grams of whey protein after you workout; that’s way too much. Glad you enjoyed the post and feel free to send over any more questions you may have!

  7. ok that clear it up. So how much of that protein should actually be taken after exercise? I know there is some kind of formula as to how many grams you should drink right after exercise

    1. Not really a formula for that sort of thing…Just one serving of whey protein powder mixed in with milk or water is ideal. One serving with milk is about 40 grams of protein..with water, you’re looking at about 28 grams.

  8. Thanks for the post, but what about those (although few) who have a milk allergy (not lactose intollerance, but a true allergy). What would you recommend to get post workout protein?

    1. You can use soy or pea protein. Both make nice replacements to standard whey. Whey is just superior because it is absorbed more readily than the the other types. Either way, do the best you can given your circumstances.

  9. I just found your site and like it. I firmly believe in a healthy diet as part of a healthy life but I have a question about whey protein. I avoid all processed foods and un natural substances and whey powder seems to be highly processed and appears to be full of additives to make it palatable. Are there other substitutions for this? Milk, eggs, etc that provide the protein without the unnatural chemicals?

  10. Hello–great article! Just wondering how important the banana is? What are your thoughts of adding frozen fruit instead to mix things up a bit?

    1. Glad you like it! The banana is there to provide some simple carbs, which in turn help spike your insulin and drive protein into your hungry muscles. The banana itself isn’t completely necessary – just be sure to include some high sugar fruits that will have the same effect on your body. Thanks for reading our blog. If you like what we offer, you may like our full site which is launching in April. Head over to ShareItFitness.com and leave your email to claim a free premium membership. Appreciate your support!


  11. When you say the shake is a post-workout meal, do you mean it should replace breakfast (if I work out first thing in the morning) or dinner (if I work out after work)? I definitely want to add this protein but little concerned about how many calories I would be taking in.

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