Why I STILL Have A Post-Workout Shake After My Workouts

As you probably know, I wrote a book called Superior Muscle Growth. And one of the many topics I cover in SMG is nutrient timing… specifically the pre-, during and post-workout meals.

This includes:

  • Looking at the history of these meals and the various recommendations given for them (complete with Back To The Future references and everything).
  • Making fun of the insanity that often came along with these recommendations over the last 10+ years.
  • Making fun of the insanity that often comes along with many of the current recommendations – which can be equally insane – just from the opposing point of view.
  • Making fun of many of the people who have given these recommendations, both past and present.
  • Breaking down the current nutrient timing research (especially the recent work of guys like Brad Schoenfeld and James Krieger) and explaining what it actually tells us while also pointing out the incorrect stuff some people think it tells us.
  • Providing detailed recommendations for each of these meals, as well as for different scenarios a person might be in when consuming these meals.
  • And more.

So yeah, this chapter covers damn near every nutrient timing question you might have.

Statement #1

Now, among the many conclusions reached in this chapter is that – assuming your pre-workout meal was sufficient in terms of what it contained and when it was consumed in relation to the timing of your workout (all of which is covered in my pre-workout recommendations in that very same chapter) – then the precise timing and overall speed of the post-workout meal becomes much less important.

Meaning, whether your post-workout meal is a “fast digesting” shake that is literally consumed in the locker room right after finishing your last set, or a solid food meal consumed 60 minutes after you leave the gym… it’s unlikely to have any meaningful positive or negative impact on your results with all else being equal.

Or to say that yet another way, under these typical conditions, that long standing supposed “need” to slam down a post-workout shake immediately after your workout isn’t actually a legit need at all.

Again, this is all covered in detail in the book, so I’m not going to try to explain it all again here.

Statement #2

What I am going to do is explain a statement that came a little later on in that same chapter…

I personally still consume a post-workout shake in the car on the ride home from the gym, followed by what is essentially “part 2” of this meal about 60-90 minutes after that. This second half is always a big solid food meal containing a significant amount of protein and carbs. It’s just what I like to do because it suits my personal needs and dietary preferences.

So if I technically don’t “need” to consume a post-workout shake right after my workout ends, and doing so is unlikely to have any meaningful effect whatsoever on my results, and doing so is one of those things that has somehow (and by “somehow” I’m thinking it’s mostly just people misinterpreting the work of Brad/James) recently become viewed as anything from “silly” to “pointless” to “bad” (the book covers this too)… then why in the hell do I still do it anyway?

That’s what I’m going to tell you right now.

5 Reasons Why I Still Drink A Post-Workout Shake

  1. Because I like to, and there’s absolutely no reason for me not to. Brad Schoenfeld himself actually appears to do something similar in terms of the timing of this meal: “We both surround our training bouts with protein. We both don’t wait to get the protein in.” (Source: 20:53 mark of this interview. Unfortunately, that interview no longer exists.)
  2. Because I’ve been doing this since probably 2005, back when I thought it “needed” to be done and was of extreme importance and benefit to me. So while I learned years later that it wasn’t (and experimented on my own to confirm it), it was already a thing that I had been doing for so long that it just became a routine part of my diet. And because of reason #1 above, I have zero reason to change it. So I haven’t.
  3. Because I don’t always go straight home after the gym. Sometimes I have stuff to do afterwards and it might be 1-2 hours before I’m back in my house and able to consume a solid food meal.
  4. Because I’m just hungry after my workouts and I WANT to consume something as soon as possible. Sure, it technically doesn’t have to be a shake to fill this need. But practically speaking, it’s not exactly ideal for me to bring something like chicken and rice into the gym and then try to eat it in the car while driving or in the locker room within a few feet of the various naked balls of random old guys. Some form of post-workout shake is just the most efficient and convenient option.
  5. Because I happen to have above average calorie needs (that darn NEAT), which means I have a lot of food to prepare, cook and eat over the course of the day to meet those needs. You know what I’ve found helps make this easier for me? Especially on my higher calorie training days (yup, I cycle my calories using the Deficit + Surplus approach from Superior Muscle Growth)? Consuming some of those calories in a quick, easy and super convenient shake after my workout. So I do that.

Statement #3

So, like I mentioned in the book… “It’s just what I like to do because it suits my personal needs and dietary preferences.” Nothing more, nothing less.

If some kind of shake consumed right after your workouts is what suits yours, then by all means feel free to do it right along with me. If a solid food meal consumed 60 minutes later is what you’d rather do, then by all means feel free to go right ahead and do that. And if some similar third version of this is what you’d prefer to do… then go for it just the same.

Because with all else being equal (total daily calorie and macronutrient intake, sufficient pre-workout meal, typical workout conditions, etc.), it’s not likely to matter.

Do the thing that best suits your dietary needs and preferences. It’s what I do.

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Jay is the science-based writer and researcher behind everything you've seen here. He has 15+ years of experience helping thousands of men and women lose fat, gain muscle, and build their "goal body." His work has been featured by the likes of Time, The Huffington Post, CNET, Business Week and more, referenced in studies, used in textbooks, quoted in publications, and adapted by coaches, trainers, and diet professionals at every level.

28 thoughts on “Why I STILL Have A Post-Workout Shake After My Workouts”


  1. Jay, Good article, yeah I do same thing. It’s a lot easier and more convenient to do it like that even though it is not needed, still suits my needs better. Also I read your article on elbow pain and have the same issue I had a few months ago. Doc said it could take 4 to 6 months to heal. I had this issue before and it was right about 4 months. Hurts worse doing curls. Is there anyway I can work around this,doesn’t realy hurt doing most things but don’t want to hurt it more. I don’t think I will do arms anymore until it completely heals. Seems like it happens after about 8 weeks into my routine, and I’m staying away from incline dumbbell curls and barbell curls. Seems like one or other is the culprit. Could be poor form. Any suggestions?

    • All of my best suggestions are in that very same article. With curls, the only thing I could do at the time without pain was dumbbell hammer curls, so that was the only type of curling exercise I did for pretty much an entire year. Try it.

      Also keep in mind that the tendonosis version of medial epicondylitis (which would be the version involving actual microtears in the tendon rather than just inflammation around it) is not an injury that heals with rest and time. It requires an specific rehab program involving exercises designed to rebuild/restrengthen the tendon. This article remains the best resource I’ve found on the subject.

  2. Great Article one again, Jay! I always love reading your posts. However, It’s becoming more and more clear to me how important it is to apply the basics and to STICK WITH THEM when it comes to training, diet and supplementation. It’s soooo easy to get side tracked off you’re own gains by all the self-proclaimed body building/nutrition gurus and the like who’ll tell ya lots of crap in order to get you to buy what their hawking. The more I study and apply to myself the things that are working, the more I am inclined to stay with what works for me and my particular physical structure. I am certainly not averse to trying new things in order to find out if they will get me closer to my goal (i.e., fat loss, building muscle, etc.,) However, I’m finding confirmation in the BASICS which for me, when building muscle and keeping body fat low is a sensible, intelligent application of hypertrophy (i.e., the workout part as found in your e-book The Best Workout Routines-and oh by the way THEY WORK REAL GOOD!!) coupled with a diet that supports one’s training. Again, for me it’s getting enough protein, carbs and fats daily. A few supplements (I like Whey Protein Isolate, Zinc, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Magnesium Malate and a good high quality Multi-vitamin, Oh, and if I might add one other thing which will take one’s results into overdrive, I would add CONSISTENCY! p.s. Come on Jay, let’s get that next publication out there!! Can’t wait!! May Palmer

      • Great to hear the tease, Jay! We are all looking forward to the release of your next Masterpiece my friend! In the meantime, I remain a full time student of Body Building/Fitness, Nutrition & Supplementation. Though still very new to ‘the game’, I can see why this thing is so addictive. However, for me the best part are the looks I’m getting due to my finally getting a handle on my diet and of course being CONSISTENT with my own workouts!

  3. another amazing one jay!
    when i workout in the mornings i like my whey shake as a pre workout meal… it takes me around 2 hrs to get done with the workout, take bath and get ready for the day…. about time for a solid breakfast which provides the post workout meal ( now that i know the post workout meal timing doesn’t matter that much i might as well make time for those early morning teenage things haha 😉

  4. #4 makes the most sense to me. Yes I’m hungry. I wouldn’t do any workout, other than the morning workout on a empty stomach or should I say a coffee filled stomach. So a good shot of protein shake right after is just right.

  5. When I return home from the gym, my appetite is NIL! I have to force down my post-workout drink slowly or have it sprayed-out on the kitchen floor! Then it takes 3-4 hours which is around 9:45AM until I feel hungry enough to eat something. I then eat meals spaced out at every 2 hours until 6PM. That’s about 4-5 meals a day and these meals aren’t small!

  6. I am planning to use a post-workout shake as ”part 1” of my post-workout meal just like you do simply to add some extra calories to my bulking diet. What do you recommend for a carb powder ? Dextrose or Maltodextrin ?

  7. Jaydawg,

    I really wanna say THANKS FOR LIKE F***ING EVERYTHING. I’m a teenage guy, turned 15 5 days ago. I have not even been training for a YEAR (Started consistently in late July of last year) and, I kid you not, I have gone from 123 with a keg to 150-155 with abs at around 8-9% bodyfat. Thank you so much for your workout advice!! Only downside is that my dream girl thinks I use steroids, so she avoids me. No joke, people think I’ve been juicing. Unfortunately I have no before or after photos. But I swear I’m telling the truth. Your work has made training so easy! Thanks!!!

  8. Thanks to Jay for clearing the broscience and bulls*** out of bodybuilding! I owe him big time, I have put on 30 pounds of lean tissue in my first year of training as of now listening to his advice. Plus I dropped bodyfat. No joke, your work has changed me. I’m 15 as of July 9, and because of you I’m moving on the way to a bodybuilder physique. Girls tell me I’m jacked now thanks to you :). For the doubters, this man is among your few hopes of getting the body you want! Take him seriously! Also, Jay, I have a question? What are the maximum strength standards for those around 5-8% bodyfat? What’s the strongest you can get in that shape on the powerlifts?

  9. Hey, just want to say thanks for the phenomenal site. Wish I found it before putting in so much time trying to sort through what’s legit and what’s bullshit on so many of the other bodybuilding sites. That being said, one of the reasons I put so much trust in the info you put forth is because I’ve weeded out a lot (not nearly all) of the same great info on my own over many hours of research.

    But I’m still a bit on the fence about this:
    One of the post workout nutrition “facts” that I haven’t seen mentioned here (or just missed it) is to limit your fat intake on your after workout meal/shake due to it slowing down the digestion of the protein and carbs that you require for recovery. Necessary or hooey?

    Thanks again,
    Greg – Edmonton, Canada

    • If there was a sufficient pre-workout meal in place and the workout itself was a sane length, I wouldn’t really worry much (if at all) about having some fat in your post workout meal. If, however, the pre-workout meal was insufficient or not there at all (e.g. fasted training) or the workout was some crazy 4 hour thing, I’d probably keep fat pretty low post workout.

  10. I personallly like having 10.4 grams of NOW BCAA with 28 ounces of plain black coffee 1 hour before before my workout and 1 quart (32 ounces of whole milk immediately after my workouts.
    What do you think of this Jay? I have strongly considering switching to a whey/sugar drink of 0.25g protein/0.25g carb per body weight (because you reccommend it) taken 30 minutes before workout. But that means i would have to account for 300 calories i prefer having at dinner on workout days. I have the discipline, no doubt about it, but will it truly be better then just having my preworkout bcaa which only has 10 calories??? I will do whatever is optimal now matter what.

    • Eat some protein and carbs 1-2 hours before and after your workouts. Let your personal preferences set the exact specifics of timing and food sources.

      No need to make this any more complicated than that.

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