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Protein shakes.

Old 05-04-14, 04:25 PM
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RonanP77
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Protein shakes.

I'm new to cycling, I did my longest ever cycle today at 70km. I brought two drinkers with me of just water.

My brother in law loves the gym and was telling me I should be bringing protein shakes on my runs because he drinks them on his workouts. Do cyclists need protein shakes? If so do I drink them before, on or after cycling? Should I just stuck to water?
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Old 05-04-14, 05:39 PM
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Some cyclists use them and some don't... It's a good idea to ingest some protein during a long distance ride.
For me personally I like to drink protein during my ride and then when I come home, after my ride, I'll have a nice big recovery meal. There are two types of protein: Whey which is absorbed and digested very fast and Casein which takes few hours to digest and get absorbed. I prefer Casein because it takes longer to digest and provides a long steady supply of amino acids during long periods of activity. Whey is good as a recovery drink after intense exercise, but you can also use Whey during your bike ride. It really doesn't matter which type of protein you use as long as you get some protein. Everybody is different and has their own personal preference.

Last edited by wolfchild; 05-04-14 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 05-05-14, 12:22 PM
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Think hours, not kilometers. On rides of under 1.5 hours, just water is fine. 2-3 hours, you'll need some carbs, probably throughout the ride. Over 3 hours, some protein is recommended. Doesn't take much, maybe 15% of calories. After the ride is the time to get some more protein and carbs down. Maybe 25g protein, 50g carbs after a 3 or so hour ride. Then a regular meal fairly soon.

Gym rats are frequently very into protein. Cycling isn't the same. You actually want to lose or maintain weight, certainly not gain it.
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Old 05-05-14, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Gym rats are frequently very into protein. Cycling isn't the same. You actually want to lose or maintain weight, certainly not gain it.
Lots of protein isn't going to put a ton of weight on you without workouts to back it up. Protein for a cyclist will do the same thing that it does for lifters. Help the body rebuild and respond to workouts.
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Old 05-05-14, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Gym rats are frequently very into protein. Cycling isn't the same. You actually want to lose or maintain weight, certainly not gain it.
The reason gym rats are into protein is because a well-designed strength training program will burn a whole lot more calories than you will cycling. I did strength training for a couple of years, not because I'm a gym rat per se but to focus on toning areas that cycling neglects. I found a shake very beneficial after workouts because if you do a serious workout and don't add some protein back, you'll get pretty darn tired.

Cycling isn't the same, though, as you point out. If the OP wants to do a protein shake, that would be fine -- but as a meal replacement, not as a supplement. As you point out, you don't really need that many calories following cycling unless your ride is not only long, but pretty grueling.
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Old 05-05-14, 05:48 PM
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If you experience noticeable DOMs Delayed onset muscle soreness - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia next day after riding then taking extra protein may help with that.
How much will it help (or not) depends on too many factors.

When I was doing weight lifting someone recommended to take BCAA before/during workouts and it did made noticeable difference, recovery was faster and less DOMs.
I was very sceptical initially but since I did exactly same routine for years I could pretty much tell how I would feel next day normally vs days I took BCAA so it was hard to argue.
To my limited knowledge most of sports "recovery" drinks have some amount of BCAA.

Unlike other forms of protein (especially "slow" ones like casein) BCAA can be absorbed very quickly and used by your body to repair & rebuild damaged muscles almost instantly (5-10mins after consumption - check with wiki here as I forgot details).
Essentially this allows your body to repair itself faster, no other miracles here.

You probably do not want to take any casein while you are riding - it will take hours for your body to absorb it and there's zero benefits from consuming it while you on the bicycle.
Casein shakes usually consumed right before going to bed - the logic here is that you keep that extra protein supply flowing overnight.

All above only makes sense if you actually have DOMs / stressing your muscles beyond what they normally can handle and cause some damage (hence DOMs next day).
If you do not have that then taking BCAA or any protein really is just extra consumed calories.

Also keep in mind that extra protein alone will not help recover faster, you will need some carbs (for energy supply) and of course rest.
Ideally (and especially if you genetically gifted) each damage -> recovery cycle should result in better/bigger muscles ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supercompensation ) but for most it takes long time to achieve and hard to notice.

During my hard rides I still use BCAA as described above.
I'm using this brand Amazon.com: Optimum Nutrition Instantized BCAA 5000mg Powder, Unflavored, 345g: Health & Personal Care for 3+ year now.
Simply adding 3 teaspoons to Gatoraid bottle, shake & pour to bicycle bottle and drink while riding.
Drinking that mix has same effect on me - I usually can ride pretty hard day after and two days after I'm almost at 90-95%.

Just keep in mind that positive effect of all those protein supplements rather minor, you can simply eat better to get same results.

Last edited by IronHorseRiderX; 05-05-14 at 05:55 PM.
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Old 05-05-14, 10:17 PM
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Putting BCAAs in the bottle is a good idea. I usually take 4g before a ride (per Friel) but this sounds like a better routine. I run ~15% whey in my food bottle, too. So if I go 250 cal./hr, that would be about 10g protein/hr. Usually I do less than that, maybe 200, so then 7.5g/hr. About 20% of the ON whey is BCAAs, so maybe 2g/hr.
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Old 05-05-14, 10:26 PM
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The art and science of nutrition is way to complicated for a simple answer to one product question. No substitute for in depth personal study. Only then can you get your personal answer.

Like almost everything put into a person's body protein shakes have good and bad attributes. Up to you to figure out the balance.

Lots of snake oil so read and understand.
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Old 05-06-14, 04:47 AM
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I'd probably save protein shakes for AFTER the ride. On long rides, ingesting some protein is great. But if I'm riding my bike for 3+ hours, the last thing I want to do is choke down a protein shake or something dairy based, especially if its hot outside.

Protein shakes post-ride would be great for promoting recovery. I personally prefer to just eat actual food when I'm riding, even if that means stopping somewhere. But most of the snacks you could eat while riding are going to have enough protein to keep things in balance. Peanut Butter sandwiches, nuts, granola bars, etc all have some protein
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Old 05-06-14, 05:50 PM
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No one even bothered to ask what your intensions were. That would be where I would start. What are you hoping to accomplish?
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Old 05-06-14, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by squatchy View Post
No one even bothered to ask what your intensions were. That would be where I would start. What are you hoping to accomplish?
Protein is very important for endurance athletes, because it prevents muscle breakdown...Long hours of endurance and cardio generate high levels of cortisol in your body which has a catabolic effect on your muscle tissues. Protein and BCAA's help to prevent muscle breakdown.
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Old 05-06-14, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by RonanP77 View Post
My brother in law loves the gym and was telling me I should be bringing protein shakes on my runs because he drinks them on his workouts. Do cyclists need protein shakes? If so do I drink them before, on or after cycling? Should I just stuck to water?
A protein shake is a bit much for during the ride. You could start to catabolize muscle after only 40 minutes or so, depending on your glycogen stores. But you can only utilize so much protein in a given amount of time, even less when under stress. So the short answer is you should have a little during the ride, then a little more every 3-4 hours. There is no bonus for getting more than you need, only a stiff penalty for those hours during the day when the protein demands are not satisfied.
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Old 05-07-14, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by squatchy View Post
No one even bothered to ask what your intensions were. That would be where I would start. What are you hoping to accomplish?
Thats a good question, I'm not sure I know the answer. I'd like to be able to head out and do a 100km cycle every Sunday. There's a 200km cycle in three months or so and I want to do it. I'm not looking to put on weight or anything like that, I just want something that might give me a little boost on a ride and will help with recovery afterwards.
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Old 05-07-14, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by RonanP77 View Post
Thats a good question, I'm not sure I know the answer. I'd like to be able to head out and do a 100km cycle every Sunday. There's a 200km cycle in three months or so and I want to do it. I'm not looking to put on weight or anything like that, I just want something that might give me a little boost on a ride and will help with recovery afterwards.
That's pretty much what I've done for years. On rides of 100k, you'll want to eat something like 500-700 calories total, with probably but not necessarily some of that protein and the rest carbs. On a 200k ride, say you do it in good time which would be 10 hours, you'll want to eat something like 2000 calories and you will want about 15% of that to be protein and the rest carbs. Thus what you need to figure out is how much of what you need to eat, and can eat successfully during rides of that duration. Long rides are really all about eating, hydration, and electrolytes. It's not "a little boost." Fitness is assumed.
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Old 05-09-14, 05:01 PM
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Definitely add to having at least a BCAA in your bottle during a ride. Most companies offer a whey/casein blended protein powder, so especially after a workout you're more inclined to get the best of both worlds to start repairing muscle. However, preventing your body from going catabolic is most certainly key. Only other thing, is I'm not a fan of OTC drugs, so I take fish oil, as that has shown to decrease inflammation. That may be something ideal after a long ride as well.
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Old 05-23-14, 12:12 AM
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Yes you can drink protein shake to boost your energy level and improve your endurance.
If you want to drink the protein shake then you should take it at the end of your cycling.
Before and during the riding you should drink the fresh fruits juices to maintain your energy level.

Last edited by Vernon008; 05-27-14 at 01:25 AM.
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Old 05-23-14, 01:27 AM
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Carbs for the ride and protein/carbs after the ride.
Your body is using carbs/fat for fuel while riding. your body has an ample amount of fat in storage but not so many carbs. If considering a ride over 2 hours I would start eating at the 1 hour mark and ingest 60grams of carbs per hour as it's the maximum amount. Carbs absorb quick, proteins don't. The only use you could have from protein on a ride is getting the recovery going immediately after the ride, but that can also be achieved by hitting the post workout half hour window.

This means basically that you need to eat/drink protein and carbs in the immediate half hour after the ride. Chocolate milk has been shown to be even more beneficial for recovery than actual recovery shakes or protein shakes. So get a few cups of chocolate milk right after the workout and eat normal food an hour or two after the workout. For cycling purposes that should be quite sufficient.

However not to be to scientific about it.
On a long ride, eat normal stuff like bread, rice balls, sandwiches etc. Gels are for racing. The main thing to remember is to have foods which are high in carbs. Nuts for example are high on fat and protein but not in carbs so they make for poor riding food. Bread has massive amounts of carbs so sandwiches is a good idea. Easily packed as well. Potatoes are good as they have a highish glycemic index. But you get the point.
Post ride chocolate milk. I'm really not sure who actually needs protein shakes as such. Maybe bodybuilders... You can get all the protein you need from normal eating especially if you're a meat eater. If not, then it takes a little bit more thought but still not really that hard to hit the quota.
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Old 05-26-14, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by sprince View Post
A protein shake is a bit much for during the ride. You could start to catabolize muscle after only 40 minutes or so, depending on your glycogen stores. But you can only utilize so much protein in a given amount of time, even less when under stress. So the short answer is you should have a little during the ride, then a little more every 3-4 hours. There is no bonus for getting more than you need, only a stiff penalty for those hours during the day when the protein demands are not satisfied.
Ding, ding, ding! Bingo!

Bringing carbs during your longer rides will do better for you if you're trying to maintain energy during the ride. But you take in the protein after the ride for optimal muscle repair. Sprince is right on the money.

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