First of all, there’s no substitute for real food. After training, I would advocate lean proteins such as fish, pulses, beans, nuts and hummus, which is great because it has loads of chickpeas in there (they’re high in protein) plus a small amount of carbohydrates to replace the glycogen the training has taken from the muscles. However, if you’re an athlete on the go and unable to eat shortly after training, then a protein shake is advisable. Remember, hydration is also vital after training to replenish the body.
When it comes to the type of shake you’re after, it’s horses for courses. Protein is required to rebuild muscles that might have been broken down, so take it in after a weight session, or any activity where you feel muscle soreness – intense running, crossfit, HIIT (high intensity interval training) involving plyometrics, or jumping. (It’s unlikely you’ll need one after a light walk to the shops.) My advice would be to chat to a trainer about the style of exercise you’re doing and the best type of post-workout nutrition for you.
It’s also useful to get a food sensitivity test. They can be expensive at around £300, but they’ll highlight any food intolerances you might have and it’s an investment for the long haul. A lot of protein shakes are milk-based and the majority of people experience inflammation after consuming cows milk, though it often goes unnoticed. A food sensitivity test will highlight that. In those cases it might be better to get a grass-fed, whey protein powder that can be mixed with water, or a hemp protein shake.