Should You Drink Protein Shake Before Or After Workout?

Should you have your protein shake before or after you exercise? Let’s see what research says.

Chocolate, Banana And Peanut Butter Protein Shake | www.asweetpeachef.com

We all agree that protein intake is good and necessary. But when it comes to consuming protein, many of us are unsure whether to drink a protein shake before or after workouts. 

The truth is, there is no right answer to this question.

To a large extent, it depends on fitness goals. There are pros and cons to both pre-workout protein and protein consumption post-workout.

In this article, I’m going to talk about the benefits and drawbacks of both when the goal is to support muscle recovery and muscle growth.

Protein Shake Before Workout

Pros

Energy Boost

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One of the biggest benefits of taking protein shakes before a workout is that they give you an energy boost and put your body in prime condition to build muscle.

As you probably know, proteins contain essential amino acids that are the building blocks of muscle fibers. While both whey protein and casein protein are good for muscle building, whey protein in liquid form is particularly good because it is absorbed quickly and transported to muscle cells.

This is the reason why it’s an excellent idea to drink a protein shake made with whey protein powder before your workout.

Here’s the ASPC-approved list of other energy-boosting foods that you can try prior to exercising.

Feeling of Satiety

If you haven’t eaten for a few hours before your workout sesh, then consuming protein before you hit the gym can help you feel fuller and satiated.

I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t like working out with hunger pangs distracting me.

Fat Loss Support

If you are trying to include more protein in your diet to achieve a healthier body weight, or if you want to increase your total daily protein intake for fat loss and a better fat-muscle ratio, then drinking a protein shake pre-workout is a great way to meet your daily protein needs and lose more fat.

Cons

Digestion Issues

I have friends who don’t like to drink protein shakes just before a workout because they can sit in the stomach and feel heavy during an exercise session.

Other folks I know have a sensitive stomach and have trouble digesting a protein shake before a workout. Such individuals typically don’t consume protein before a workout because a pre-training session protein shake leaves them feeling queasy. 

If this sounds familiar to you, there’s an easy fix. Try to drink your pre-workout shake about half an hour to one hour before you hit the gym. You can also try a hydrolyzed protein powder – it is designed for better absorption and digestion and increases amino acid delivery.

Protein Shake After Workout

Pros

Muscle Repair

A protein-rich meal post-workout, whether it is through dietary protein or supplements, is traditionally the time when most people like to consume protein.

The reason is simple. This is the anabolic window in which muscle repair happens after the muscle breakdown that occurs during exercise. It’s also the time when the growth of muscle tissue takes place.

By providing your body with more protein during this critical period, you can maximize returns from your workouts. Drinking a protein shake after a workout is especially important if your goal from weight training is building muscle.

Easier Digestion

Another benefit of protein post-workout is that it’s easier to digest than a full meal. A post-workout shake will give you just the energy boost you need without making you feel overstuffed.

If you exercise regularly like me, you probably know how uncomfortable that can feel. 

If you’ve got a busy morning and are running late, drinking a protein shake after your workout is a great way to nourish your body without spending too much time cooking a full breakfast. 

Hydration

And last but not least, workout nutrition with a protein shake can help replace some of the fluid you lost during your sweat sesh.

Cons

There are no real cons if you like to drink a protein shake after your workout. You don’t have to rush to do it either.

Drinking protein shakes 1-2 hours after your workout will give your working muscles the amino acids they need. If you eat within three or four hours of your strength training or resistance training session, you’ll still have elevated blood amino acids to support working muscle repair.

The recommended daily allowance of protein in adults is 0.36 grams per pound or 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. So, for an average person who weighs 150 pounds or 68 kg, the goal should be 54 grams of protein a day. 

But here’s the thing.

This is the recommended protein intake for people who don’t have a specific fitness goal.

If you want to gain muscle or build muscle strength, then you need to double this amount. So, to grow muscle size and support muscle recovery, a 150-pound or 68-kg individual should consume around 100-120 grams of protein a day. 

Of course, professional athletes need an even higher protein intake to keep energy levels up.

Research shows that these folks need anywhere from 1.2 grams to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

Based on our research, women also have different protein requirements. More of that here.

Should You Drink Protein Shakes on Rest Days?

Green Protein Smoothie

Yes, you should drink a protein shake (or two) on rest days.

It can take your muscles up to 48 hours to recover after exercising. So, even if you’re not sweating at the gym, you still need protein for rebuilding muscle and other tissues in your body. 

Here are some of my favorite protein shake recipes:

When Is The Best Time To Take Your Protein Shake?

There is no single optimal time to take your protein shake. Ideally, you need to distribute your total protein intake and consume protein every 3-5 hours. 

This is because most of use tend to eat a carb-rich breakfast (don’t hate me for devouring my oatmeal in the morning). And our protein intake is heavily skewed towards the latter half of the day, typically dinner. 

Several studies show that consuming protein, either through diet or through protein supplements, throughout the day instead of all at once is associated with more efficient muscle protein synthesis.

Indeed, many experts feel that more than protein shake before or after a workout, it’s your total protein intake that’s important. In other words, there’s no significant difference. 

Recent research suggests that pre-workout protein powders and post-workout protein are equally effective in promoting muscle strength, muscle growth, and changes in body composition. 

Wrapping Up

There are some subtle advantages and disadvantages to protein shake before or after a workout depending on your individual fitness goals. A registered dietitian or sports nutritionist can help you fine-tune your protein intake around your workout if you really want to maximize the benefits of protein consumed.

In general, protein shake pre and post-workout have similar effects. Pre-workout protein is a convenient way to eat more protein and it will give you an energy boost and improve your performance.

A post-workout protein shake is a convenient option and it will give your body the nutrients and fuel it needs post-exercise to rebuild and recover muscles. I suggest you try drinking protein shakes at different times around your workout and see how you feel. 

My final word of advice?

Rather than focusing on timing, start paying attention to the total amount of protein you’re consuming on a daily basis. You might be surprised to discover you aren’t actually getting sufficient amounts or hitting your recommended daily allowance.

Once you know how many more grams of protein per day you need to consume, you might actually want to drink a protein shake both before and after your workout.

Lacey Baier

Hey y’all, I’m Lacey Baier and I’m so glad you’re here! I’m a healthy lifestyle influencer and the creator of this clean-eating blog and YouTube channel, A Sweet Pea Chef. My recipes have been published on Food Network, Good Morning America, FoxNews, Tastemade, Fitness Magazine, and much more. I live in Dallas, Texas with my husband and four kiddos. Let’s get started!

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