If you’re paying attention to your nutrition, you may have asked yourself: When is the best time to drink a protein shake? But… that’s not it In fact the question you should ask yourself.
Despite focusing on the “perfect” time to consume protein, how much what you consume is more important than when, according to researchers.
We metabolize protein in our bodies over a period of time, so as long as you eat enough overall each day, there will be a “pool” to use when you need it.
However, if you are looking to get stronger and build muscle, you must pay some attention to time. Here’s how to incorporate protein shakes into your diet in a way that can help you reach your goals.
Is there a “perfect time” to consume protein shakes?
Not quite. And that’s mainly because not all protein shakes are created equal. More specifically, not all proteins sources They are the same. Some will be absorbed by your body more quickly, while others act more slowly and will help you stay fuller for longer.
If you’re making a protein shake with Shakeology, you’ll get 16 or 17 grams of protein (depending on flavor) and six grams of fiber, which can help you feel fuller longer. This makes it a great smoothie to have as part of breakfast, snack, or even dessert.*
But if you’re talking about a post-workout formula like Chocolate Whey Recovery, you’ll find 20 grams of protein, including pea protein and whey protein isolate, a fast-digesting and easy-to-digest protein. It is best consumed after a workout so you can quickly supply your muscles with protein to help them repair and rebuild.*
Protein after a workout
You should consume protein throughout the day, but you should definitely make sure to get some into your system after you exercise.
During a strength training session, you cause microscopic damage to your muscles. It may seem like a bad thing, but that “microdamage” is what triggers muscle repair and growth. In short, without it, you wouldn’t get stronger! But your body needs protein to help with that rebuilding process, so a post-workout protein shake can be helpful.
The muscle-boosting effect of foods can last up to a few hours, but drinking a protein shake half an hour after exercising is a good idea. Ensures your muscles have the amino acids they need when they need them most.
Protein before a workout
When it comes to training performance and recovery, drinking protein shakes post-workout is usually better for the reasons explained above. Additionally, timing your protein intake too close to your workout can be counterproductive. After all, you don’t need protein before exercise, says Denis FayeEM
“If anything, you should start exercising with your food mostly digested because digestion can interfere with your training,” says Faye. “Some people like BCAAs [branched-chain amino acids] pre-workout, which are technically the building blocks of proteins.”
They’re fine, he says, “because they’re usually found in a quick-absorbing drink that doesn’t require much effort to digest, so it doesn’t interfere with your workout.”
Why you need protein (anytime)
Protein is one of the three main macronutrients along with carbohydrates and fats. You need these three things to have a complete diet. Protein helps your body with several functions, including:
- Muscle synthesis*
- Tissue repair*
- Develop and maintain strong bones*
You can get protein from animal products, such as meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy, or from plant products, such as tofu, edamame, beans, and nuts. You can also consume protein in the form of a shake. Some common sources of protein in shakes are whey, casein, pea, and hemp.
It can be very convenient to get some protein from a shake, because you don’t have to worry about cooking or preparing it, and it’s easy to carry. Supplementing your diet with a protein shake (in addition to other whole foods) can help keep your body adequately fueled, no matter how busy your schedule is or how much you hate cooking.
Don’t forget the other macros
Don’t sacrifice any other food groups or essential macronutrients to make way for protein, as you need plenty of fiber, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
The bottom line
Follow these three guidelines when it comes to protein:
- Consume protein within half an hour of exercising to ensure your body has enough to help optimize your recovery.
- Try to eat protein at every meal to ensure you get the right amount each day to reach your goals.
- Be 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.