nutrition

When to Take Protein Shakes

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

5 min read

Are you getting enough protein in your diet? Protein shakes can be an easy way to add more protein to your diet. But is there a right time to drink your shake?

When to Take Protein Shakes — A Short Guide

Protein can help people maintain a healthy weight, gain muscle, and feel more energized. In order to add in more protein, some people will increase the animal proteins they consume by eating more meat, eggs, or dairy. Others may get protein by eating certain fruits and vegetables, such as avocados, bananas, guavas, and asparagus. Another popular way to take protein is through supplements, such as protein shakes made from whey, hemp seed, or casein. The right amount of protein can positively affect your body. Knowing when to take protein shakes can help you get the maximum benefits from these nutritional drinks.

When to take protein for weight loss

One of the main reasons people take protein is that it can help in achieving weight loss goals. It takes protein longer to break down than it takes carbs to break down. So, eating protein can help satisfy your appetite – making you less hungry and aiding in weight management. Making sure you get adequate protein throughout the day can be supportive for your body. This study shows that a high protein snack can help manage appetite, satiety, and food intake. Concentrating your protein intake in the morning is the best strategy for helping manage weight.. That’s because taking protein can help boost metabolism and help fight cravings. Instead of reaching for chips and other snacks between breakfast and lunch, it can be helpful to sip on a satisfying protein shake.

When to take protein for weight gain

Although protein is an excellent way to manage appetite and manage weight, it can also help with gaining weight through muscle mass. When you want to gain weight from protein, it is a good idea to increase your protein intake to be well over the number of calories you burn each day. Additionally, if you want to add weight from protein, consider taking it before bedtime. Not only can it help with weight gain, but it can also maximize muscle development. Varying protein intake to support muscle growth and adding in carbs to support absorption can be helpful. It is normal to gain 0.5 to 1 pound per week. Slow weight gain is better and can ensure the growth of muscle instead of fat. This study demonstrated that protein intake before sleep may be an effective strategy to boost muscle mass and strength in those incorporating resistance training into their overall wellness regimen.

When to take protein to gain muscle

Are you looking to build more muscle? Well, some conflicting findings indicate that you have some flexibility about when you should take your protein shake. This recommendation from the International Society of Sports Nutrition states that it’s beneficial to take protein for muscle gain right after you workout. Fifteen to 60 minutes after a workout, the body has an anabolic window in which it can get the most out of taking protein. Consuming protein within the anabolic window may allow the protein to start repairing the muscles you’ve strained during a rigorous workout.

One study of young men, however, found that these men benefited most from protein supplements taken before bed. And still another study that tracked healthy adults and older adults demonstrated that, for optimal muscle growth, it’s best to space out protein consumption throughout the day, rather than simply taking it right before bed.

While a definitive time of day to take protein for optimal muscle development may still be up for debate, these studies do show a correlation between protein supplements and muscle-building and recovery. Yet another study, for instance, found that whey protein hydrolysate helped women with muscle recovery.

Should you take protein before bed?

If you consume protein before bed, you are probably looking to gain weight or build muscle. Seniors may want to consume protein before going to bed to help maintain muscle strength. Consuming 30 to 40 grams of protein before bed can help maintain lean muscle mass and improve muscle recovery. For seniors, protein helps maintain energy balance and improves cardiovascular function. When consuming protein before bed, you may want to consider drinking casein protein about a half-hour before; this form of protein releases amino acids slowly and doesn’t interfere with your sleep quality.

Should you take protein before or after a workout?

Some experts say it doesn’t make a difference whether you take a protein shake before or after your workout. Consuming it before working out can trigger muscle synthesis, which helps repair muscles after an intense workout. However, other experts believe consuming protein around 30 minutes after a workout is best to start the muscle repair process. Although you can eat or drink any protein you like, it can be convenient to use protein powder shakes to help muscles begin the recovery process more quickly.

How many protein shakes should you take per day?

If you don’t consume enough protein daily through your food intake, it may be a good idea to supplement with protein shakes. The amount of protein shakes you take daily will depend on your activity level. About two shakes daily can be sufficient for those with an average build who work out regularly. It’s important to understand that protein needs are proportional to body weight, not your activity levels. That’s why you should limit your protein supplement to 30 to 50 grams per shake. More than that can be too much.

Can you take too much protein?

Although protein is beneficial for gaining muscle and managing weight, too much protein may have adverse effects. Only 10 to 35 percent of your daily calories should come from proteins. If you consume more protein than this, it could result in health problems. If you rely solely on protein intake from fatty, high cholesterol foods like meat or dairy proteins, these could exacerbate cardiovascular health issues. Too much protein from food or supplement can also take a toll on your kidneys. Some other problems that too much protein can cause are:

  • Dehydration
  • Irritability
  • Intestinal issues or disorders
  • Nausea

But how do you know you are eating or drinking too much protein? Too much protein intake may present as being thirsty or having smelly breath.

When it comes to consuming protein, adding protein shakes to your diet can help you achieve your weight management goals. While some experts believe it is ideal to consume protein at specific times of the day to achieve these outcomes, others believe that proper daily intake is far more critical than consuming it at particular times. Ultimately, adding shakes to your daily protein intake can help you reach your fitness goals more quickly.

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