Bodybuilders do not need protein shakes to achieve their muscle building and fat burning goals. Whole foods contain all the amino acids the body needs to recover from intense workouts. Protein shakes merely provide a convenient source of amino acids that digest quickly. In fact, whole food protein has a thermic effect on the body, increasing fat burning by forcing the digestive system to expend more energy breaking down the amino acids, according to "The Abs Diet" by David Zinczenko.
Eat a breakfast containing high-quality, fast-digesting proteins like eggs. According to "Supplements 101" by Jim Stoppani, PhD, egg protein scores highest on the list of naturally derived proteins. This protein scale evaluates the amino acid profile and digestibility of protein sources. Taking in protein in the morning blunts the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol breaks down muscle and encourages body fat storage.
Have six or more protein-rich meals per day, say "Xtreme Lean" authors Jonathan Lawson and Steve Holman. They recommend getting 20 to 30 or more grams of protein per meal to meet your daily total of one to 1.5 g per pound of your body weight. For example, a 180-lb. male should take in at least 180 g of high-quality protein. Examples include complete sources of protein like fish, chicken, beef, turkey and other meats.
Take in a small serving of protein, about 15 to 20 g, one to two hours before your workout to provide the needed amino acids to fuel intense training and begin the process of muscle repair. Fast-digesting proteins like eggs make an excellent choice because the amino acids arrive in the blood stream much quicker than with slower-digesting proteins like animal meats. Milk naturally contains 20 percent fast-digesting whey protein, so it makes a natural choice as a pre-workout protein source.
Take in another protein-rich meal immediately after your workout. Again, eggs make a good choice because they digest relatively fast, compared to other whole foods. Include milk in your post-workout strategy because it contains both casein and whey protein, which improve muscle building and recovery when combined, according to "Natural Anabolics" author Jerry Brainum.
Take branched-amino acid supplements to enhance muscle recovery without having to drink protein shakes. Amino acids make up the building blocks of proteins; and the branched-chain variety offer more muscle building benefits than any other amino acids, according to Brainum. In fact, bodybuilders do not technically need protein in it's intact form, but rather the amino acids that comprise the protein. You can take 5 g of branched-chain amino acids before, during and after workouts, as well as between or with your daily meals.
Eat a half to a full cup of cottage cheese before bedtime. Cottage cheese contains the slow-digesting protein casein, which takes up to seven hours to completely breakdown, says "Extended Benefits" by Kimberly Retzlaff. This slow digestion helps to build muscle while you sleep, providing a steady stream of amino acids to your muscles.