Our food is broken down into 3 main macronutrients - Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats. Each macronutrient is involved in your body’s post-workout recovery process.
(Other macronutrients include vitamins, minerals, fibre and water).
Protein is especially important to consume after a workout, as exercise triggers the breakdown of muscle protein. Protein intake helps repair and build muscle.
Consuming an adequate amount of protein after a workout gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild these proteins. It also gives you the building blocks required to build new muscle tissue.
That is why it's common to see people at the gym eating protein bars or drinking whey shakes when they have finished their routine. It helps to increase the impact of their exercise.
High protein foods include lean meats (chicken, beef, fish, tuna, pork, lamb, turkey etc), eggs, nuts (such as almonds & peanuts), pumpkin seeds, cottage cheese, milk, Greek yogurt, oats, and vegetables (such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, beans, peas), lentils and quinoa.
Protein supplements (such as shakes and protein bars) are a convenient way for you to increase your protein intake, however these should not replace a healthy diet. Supplements are just that - supplements.
There are thousands of types of protein powders available on the market in all different brands and flavours. However, the 2 most common types of protein powders (shakes) are - whey based protein (high quality protein derived from dairy) and plant based (usually pea) protein.
Flavours vary, however popular ones include chocolate, vanilla, brownie, salted caramel and also some fruit flavours (which I prefer) such as pine orange or pineapple and coconut.
Protein powders are available in a variety of stores from supermarkets to pharmacies, sports nutrition stores (such as ASN) and online.
How much protein you should be consuming will vary from person to person and will also depend on the frequency/intensity of exercise and your goals (what you are trying to achieve i.e. build muscle vs fat loss), however a common serve of protein after exercise for recovery for most people would be between 20-30g.
For more information on protein intake, consult your GP or a dietitian.