Have you ever wondered when is the best time to drink a protein shake if you’re watching your diet? But… that’s not really the question you should be asking.
Despite the focus on the „perfect“ timing for protein consumption, researchers say that how much you consume is more important than when.
We metabolize proteins in our bodies over time, so as long as you eat enough throughout the day, there’s a „pool“ that you can tap into whenever you need it.
However, if you’re looking to get stronger and build muscles, you should pay some attention to timing. Here’s how you can integrate protein shakes into your diet to achieve your goals.
Is there a „perfect time“ for consuming protein shakes?
Not exactly. And that’s mainly because not all protein shakes are equal. More specifically, not all protein sources are equal. Some are absorbed faster by your body, while others work more slowly and help keep you full longer.
For example, if you use Shakeology to make a protein shake, you get 16 or 17 grams of protein (depending on the flavor) and six grams of fiber to help you feel full longer. This makes it a great shake as part of breakfast, a snack, or even a dessert.*
On the other hand, if you’re talking about a post-workout formula like Chocolate Whey Recover, you’ll find 20 grams of protein, including both pea protein and whey protein isolate, a easily digestible, rapid-releasing protein. It’s best to consume it after a workout to quickly supply your muscles with protein to support their repair and reconstruction.*
Protein After Exercise
You should consume protein throughout the day, but you definitely want to make sure you get some into your body after exercising.
During a strength training session, you cause microscopic damage to your muscles. This may sound like a bad thing, but this „microtrauma“ is what triggers muscle repair and growth. In short, without it, you wouldn’t get stronger! But your body needs protein to support this rebuilding process, so a protein shake after exercise can be helpful.
The muscle-building effect of food can last for a couple of hours, but it’s a good idea to drink a protein shake within half an hour after exercising. This ensures that your muscles have the amino acids they need when they need them most.
Protein Before Exercise
When it comes to exercise performance and recovery, drinking protein shakes after exercising is generally better for the reasons explained above. Additionally, it can be counterproductive to consume your protein intake too close to your workout. After all, you don’t really need protein before exercising, says Denis Faye, MS.
„If anything, you should start exercise with mostly digested food, as digestion can affect your exercise,“ says Faye. „Some people like BCAAs [branched-chain amino acids] pre-workout, which are technically the building blocks of proteins.“
That’s okay, he says, „because they’re usually included in a fast-absorbing drink that doesn’t require much effort to digest, so it won’t impact your exercise.“
Why You Need Protein (Anytime)
Protein, along with carbohydrates and fats, is one of the three most important macronutrients. For a balanced diet, you need all three. Protein supports your body in various functions, including:
- Muscle synthesis*
- Tissue repair*
- Building and maintaining strong bones*
You can get protein from animal products such as meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy, or from plant products like tofu, edamame, beans, and nuts. You can also consume protein in shake form. Some common protein sources in shakes are whey, casein, pea, and hemp.
It can be very convenient to get part of your protein intake from a shake, as you don’t have to worry about cooking or preparation and it’s easy to take on the go. Supplementing your diet with a protein shake (in addition to other whole food products) can help provide your body with sufficient energy no matter how full your schedule is or how much you hate cooking.
Don’t Forget the Other Macros
Don’t forego other food groups or essential macronutrients to replace protein, as you need plenty of fiber, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
Follow these three guidelines when it comes to protein:
- Consume protein within half an hour after exercising to ensure your body has enough protein to optimize your recovery.
- Try to consume protein at every meal to ensure you get enough each day to achieve your goals.
- Make sure to also consume other nutrients (like carbohydrates, good fats, and fiber) to boost your performance and support your overall health.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.