I am trying to gain mass. If I like doing post-workout protein shakes, what is an effective way to get carbs into the shake? Also, what is a good ratio of carbs to protein?
– Joe O.
If your protein shake choice doesn’t include carbohydrates, you have a few options. Sugar is easy to dissolve and table sugar is cheap. Agave nectar or honey won’t be gritty. Non-fat milk powder or fruit juice both provide naturally occurring sugars. If using a blender, a banana or ground oats will work fine.
Trying to avoid sugar and go for a more complex carbohydrate may result in a pasty, bland shake if using household ingredients like a couple tablespoons of fine sifted flour or boiled mashed potato. If not using a blender, you’d best find a supplement carbohydrate that mixes in well. I’d suggest a simple maltodextrin that costs less than $5 per pound.
Of course, if you want to skip the hassle, just switch to a recovery shake with carbohydrates included. Ideally in the ratio of 2-3 grams carbohydrate for each gram of protein for strength training and mass gain. The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends a general 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio, which is supported by endurance exercise. Of course, as caloric nutrients, the absolute amount of carbohydrate and protein should be bodyweight dependent.
– Debbie J., MS, RD
This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.
Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.