When is the best time to take a protein shake?

When is the best time to take a protein shake?

Ask any gym junkies, what’s their favorite go-to drink before, during, or after post-workout?

You might come up with the answer, ‘protein shakes.’

A workout isn’t quite complete with a few gulps of protein shakes. It’s a staple for the gym goers in their training regimen. 

No wonder, protein powders have the greatest demand in the US sports nutrition industry and constitute 70% of the market share.

Protein shakes are popular health supplements among athletes, bodybuilders, fitness enthusiasts, and active adults. The supplements help to improve muscle mass, strength and boost physical performance, weight loss, and endurance exercises.

In this article, you will know all about protein shakes, their health benefits and When is the best time to take a protein shake?

What is a Protein Shake?

Many foods are natural sources of protein such as red meat, eggs, milk, legumes, seeds, peanuts, etc. Whereas protein powder and shakes are the easiest way to supplement the necessary amount of high-quality protein that is needed for the muscle health, strength, and important bodily functions of the athletes. Protein powder is the main ingredient in protein shakes. There are several animal and plant sources for protein powder. Depending on the sources of the nutrient there can be several types of protein powder.

Protein shakes are sports nutrition products that are mainly produced for athletes to build muscles and improve nutrient intake, performance, and strength. Protein shakes are made out of concentrated powder forms of animal and plant protein. 

Traditionally the protein supplements are prepared by mixing a couple of spoons of protein powder with milk or water. But the growing popularity and demand of the supplements among fitness freaks have given birth to numerous commercial brands of improved protein-packed liquids. These are more delicious than the DIY shakes and constitute a balanced amount of essential nutrients for the consumers. Some of the common protein powders for the shakes include whey, casein, soy, rice, pea, mixed plant protein, and egg protein.

Health Benefits of Protein Shake

According to dieticians protein is a fundamental nutrient for muscle development, repair, and optimal functions of several bodily processes- formation of hormones, enzymes, and nerve impulse transmission, and immune defense.

Heavy exercises during workout sessions put a lot of stress on the muscles resulting in protein breakdown. Protein supplements in the form of shakes help repair, rebuild, and recover the muscles. 

Here are some of the science-backed health benefits of protein shakes.

1. Protein Shakes May Help You Grow Muscles

Protein is food for your muscles. The athletes and gym-freaks prefer drinking protein shakes to beef up their muscles during workouts and physical training. 

A 2015 research published in the Sports Medicine journal suggests that consumption of protein supplements has a steady impact on muscle growth depending on the volume, frequency, and duration of the resistance training. Both trained and untrained individuals may enhance muscle gains and strength from the consumption of protein shakes.

Another study published in the Frontiers in Nutrition journal provides evidence that protein supplement consumption post the training sessions plays a significant role in optimizing performance, muscle recovery, and strength.

Protein shakes are effective for both men and women athletes. Younger people may experience positive effects more than older adults.

2. Protein Shakes Can Manage Your Weight.

Protein shakes can help your weight management regimen in several ways. The nutrient supplement can reduce your appetite, increase metabolism, and help you shed off belly fat and weight regain. 

According to dieticians a protein-rich diet or specifically protein supplements work in two ways to reduce the appetite and make you feel fuller for a longer period of time. Protein helps release hunger-reducing hormones such as GLP-1, PYY, and CCK in the body. It can simultaneously decrease the hunger hormone ghrelin too. 

A 2015 study investigated the effect of whey protein shakes in reducing appetite and food intake among athletes. The 10 male participants consumed whey protein shakes (80 grams of protein) one hour past their standard breakfast. The results showed a significant 50-65% decrease in appetite levels or hunger sensations and food intake. 

Other studies found that protein shakes produce a feeling of satiety. Thus, you may go for smaller portions of food and skip unhealthy snacking during the day. According to a study in the Journal of American College of Nutrition, whey protein supplements can reduce the total fat mass, body weight, and risk of cardiovascular diseases in obese people.

3. Protein Shakes Can Improve Your Bone Health.

Osteoporosis is a common bone health disorder and affects over 10 million people in the USA alone. Protein and calcium-rich diets and supplements such as protein shakes can improve bone health and minimize the risks of osteoporosis. 

A 2014 study confirms that dietary protein and its supplements can grow lean mass, enhance calcium absorption in the body, and strengthen the muscles and bones. Dieticians recommend consuming protein shakes in combination with calcium for optimum results. Research data published in a 2017 review journal suggests that protein shakes intake can reduce the risks of hip fractures by 165% and boost the mineral density of the bones. The study found out that both plant and animal-based proteins are beneficial for human bone and muscle health.

4. Protein Shakes Can Improve Your Performance.

Protein shakes can improve the strength training performances of routine gym-goers and athletes. Numerous studies suggest that fitness enthusiasts need more protein than untrained individuals.

High amounts of dietary protein and supplements are provided with leucine and amino acids necessary for gaining muscle and strength. Protein shakes can boost energy when you are doing strength training and reduce fatigue and tiredness. According to a 2014 study, milk, casein, and whey protein are effective in reducing muscle fatigue and damage after strength exercises.

So when is the Best Time to Take Protein Shakes?

The optimal time to consume protein shakes is a much-debated topic among fitness enthusiasts. Is it pre-or post-workout? How about drinking a protein shake first thing in the morning? These are some of the recurrent queries.

The amount and time of protein supplement consumption depend much on the nature and duration of the workout or physical exercises. Some scientific studies confirm that drinking a protein shake in the morning and post-heavy workout is the most beneficial.

  • Drinking Protein Shakes in the Morning before Workout: drinking a protein shake right after waking up in the morning can kick start your day with new energy. The body remains inactive and without any nourishment during the sleeping hours at night for about 6 to 8 hours. Hence, the body breaks down the muscle to produce enough energy right after you get off your bed. A protein-rich breakfast can prevent muscle breakdown and provide energy to the body. This energy is necessary for you to perform heavy endurance exercises and other workouts.
  • Drinking Protein Shakes Post Workout: a heavy workout or resistance exercise put a lot of stress on the body muscles. The body craves nutrient absorption and quickly absorbs the minerals, vitamins, and protein after a workout. According to health experts, the athletes who do routine strength training need double the amount of RDA or Recommended Daily Allowance of protein. Protein shakes are an easy supplement choice for this extra protein allowance. Some anecdotal reports suggest that drinking shake after 30 minutes or 1 hour of heavy physical training can repair muscles and improve muscle size and strength.
  • Drinking Protein Shakes Around Workout: there’s very limited research on the efficacy of protein shakes before or after a workout. However, a 2017 study conducted among 21 men found no significant difference in the efficacy of protein shakes when consumed before or after the workout. The participants were divided into two groups and were given 25 grams of protein-rich shakes before and after the strength training. The result was analyzed after 10 weeks and found no significant difference in muscle size and strength between the groups.

The experts now suggest that the time of protein shake consumption can be around your workout sessions. You can drink it according to your convenience and need not worry about the pre vs. post-workout protein shake benefits.

Bottom Line

Drinking protein shakes is a convenient way of providing the body with essential nutrients. The athletes and routine gym goers need protein more than general individuals. 

Several scientific researches suggest that protein shakes can help grow new muscle, repair the muscle after resistance and endurance exercises, and provide muscle strength for heavy physical activities. Protein shakes are beneficial for optimum bone health and may reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. Moreover, protein shakes can help prevent obesity and reduce the total fat mass of the body. 

The best time to drink protein shakes is around your workout sessions. A dose of protein shake in the morning before the workout may give you sufficient stamina for heavy physical training. Protein shakes after workout sessions can help repair the muscles, reduce fatigue, and grow the size and strength of the muscles.

Jimmy Falcon
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