Muscle pain from exercise? Protein drinks offer little help

In the journals

Downing a protein drink after a workout is often seen as the best way to reduce muscle soreness and speed up recovery. However, this may not be the case, suggests a study published online Aug. 21, 2019, by Human Kinetics.

Researchers found that high-protein drinks did not increase the rate of muscle recovery following resistance training when compared with a carbohydrate-only drink. They recruited 30 men who had at least one year of resistance training experience. The men performed a prescribed workout and afterward had either a whey protein hydrolysate-based drink, a milk-based drink — both of which contained 32 grams of protein — or a carbohydrate-only drink. (All the beverages had the same amount of calories.)

The men rested for 24 to 48 hours and then rated their degree of muscle soreness. They also did strength and power tests to measure their muscle function. Both the protein and carb drinkers reported similar levels of muscle soreness and showed similar recovery of muscle power.

This does not mean that nutrition is not essential for workout recovery. The researchers noted that adding healthy proteins and complex carbohydrates to all your exercise-day meals may help more than a single type of post-workout drink.

Image: belchonock/Getty Images

Disclaimer:
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.