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In the world of pre and
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post-workout nutrition, it is well established that carbohydrate and protein shakes taken before or after training helps with muscle growth and recovery. However, there is still debate regarding optimal timing of protein and carbohydrates on training days. A recent article published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism looked at whether drinking a protein/carb shake before or after heavy resistance training resulted in the least muscle damage, muscle soreness, and strength loss during recovery. The researchers reported that consuming a protein/carbohydrate supplement (immediately and 24 hrs) after heavy resistance exercise significantly decreased muscle soreness, and blunted decreases in strength (over 48 hrs into recovery) compared to those who consumed the shake before exercise. On the other hand, the subjects who drank shake prior to training saw decreases in muscle breakdown (catabolism) up to 48 hrs into recovery.

Based on the data from this study and others, we recommend drinking 20-40g of whey protein isolate prior to training and 30-50g of whey protein isolate (or whey protein hydrolysate) with 50-100g of rapid digesting (high glycemic index) carbohydrates (e.g. dextrose, maltodextrin) immediately after exercise.

Cockburn E, Stevenson E, Hayes PR, Robson-Ansley P, Howatson G. Effect of milk-based carbohydrate-protein supplement timing on the attenuation of exercise-induced muscle damage. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2010 Jun;35(3):270-7.