When most athletes think of sports nutrition and sports supplements they think protein. But often neglected is the correct ratios for optimum recovery and enhanced muscle gains. There are numerous aspects to a post workout shake that will optimize your recovery.
Muscle glycogen depleting type of workouts need higher levels of carbohydrates in a ratio of 3 carbohydrates to every 1 protein. These type of workouts are high intensity exercises that elevate your heart rate with total time lasting longer than 20-30 minutes. Examples would be conditioning work, practice, circuit type training, games, hiking, etc. where at the end of your workout you 'broke a sweat.' The activity would have required a mix of strength, power, and endurance.
Muscle building type of workouts are workouts that occur primarily in the weight room. These are purely anaerobic type workouts that are designed to increase strength and power. For optimum recovery and muscle building you would require a near 1 carbohydrate to 1 protein ratio. This would mean you would be ingesting more protein than you would for an endurance type of workout. Most workouts in the gym would fall under this category. However, if you do circuit type of conditioning work in the weight room that elevates your heart rate with the purpose of building endurance, you would need a muscle glycogen depleting formula of 3 carbohydrates to 1 protein.
Refueling your muscle glycogen and having appropriate amounts of carbohydrates are important for multiple reasons. The first obvious reason is that it refuels your glycogen. These are your stores of fuel located in your muscle. If you run out of glycogen, you run out of fuel. The second most important reason for having carbohydrates are that carbohydrates turn your body from a catabolic state (muscle breakdown) into an anabolic state (muscle building). Protein alone has a hard time turning your body into an anabolic state immediately after a workout. If you want to maximize your workout, build muscle, and recover faster, it's important to have the correct amounts of nutrition.
By having nutrition specific to your workout, you will recover quicker and come back stronger. It's important to note that nutrition needs to be scientific and individualized to your workout. No longer are the days of just taking a protein shake and trying to get as much protein as possible. The one size fits all approach is not the most efficient way to accomplish your goals (building muscle, muscle recovery, etc.). In fact, a lot of the time that is wasted money, wasted time, and wasted workouts.