When to Drink Protein Shakes — Research Review

When to Drink Protein Shakes — Research Review

closeup protein powders with scoops

Athletes and fitness gurus have many different opinions on the best time to drink protein shakes. Some swear that a post-workout shake optimizes muscle growth and can lead to quick bodybuilding, while others prefer late night shakes with casein protein to help overnight recovery. There’s no right answer to when you should drink your protein shakes, as much of it depends on your goals and daily diet. We reviewed research on the topic and compiled a guide to the most common times that protein shakes can be beneficial. Read our consensus and decide which time of day would be most advantageous to you. 

Pre-Workout Protein Shakes

Protein fuels muscle protein synthesis (MPS), or the process of building muscle, so drinking a protein shake prior to working out can ramp up this muscle development before you even hit the gym. Ideally, if you’re drinking protein shakes before exercising, you should also incorporate foods that are high in carbohydrates because carbs play an essential role in providing energy that your body burns off.

The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition reported that pre- and post-workout protein consumption has a significant effect on increasing strength and muscle mass. But, it’s important to note that should you decide to drink a shake prior to a workout, this will affect how and what you consume during your recovery time post-exercise.

Post-Workout Protein Shakes

Post-workout is one of the most common times athletes recommend drinking protein shakes because of protein’s role in muscle regrowth. Nearly every cell in your body is composed of protein and the essential amino acids that it’s made of. During an intense workout, small tears are created in your muscles to make room for growth. These rips need fuel to grow and recover, which a post-workout protein shake can aid with, speeding up the process and leading to an increase in muscle mass.

That same study by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that pre- and post-workout protein intake may not be as important and simply consuming between 20 to 40 grams of protein every three to four hours is the best method to increase MPS. This research suggests that you could eat a protein-heavy meal an hour before a workout and then within three hours, drink a post-workout protein shake to maximize muscle growth.

woman drinking protein shake in kitchen

Morning Protein Shakes

Nutritionists and fitness experts agree that your morning meal is an essential part of maintaining a healthy diet, and it should be comprised of protein-heavy ingredients. Research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that ingesting a breakfast high in protein helped participants stay full longer and increased energy levels.

For people trying to lose weight, a morning protein shake can cut down on calories while keeping you satiated. Those who are looking to build muscle can also benefit from morning protein shakes, particularly if they exercise in the morning as it can fuel workouts and provide their bodies with beneficial sustenance prior to hitting the gym.

Protein Shakes Before Bed

Some people swear by nighttime protein shakes because it’s a good time for your body to absorb amino acids and rebuild muscles. Pre-sleep protein shakes are ideal for people trying to gain muscle mass as MPS is increased at night as a result. If you’re going to incorporate protein shakes into your diet before bed, many people recommend using casein protein over whey because it is digested at a much slower rate, helping your muscles to rebuild throughout the night.

Though it has been proven that ingesting protein shakes before sleeping can maximize muscle gain, researchers are unsure that this is directly caused by the timing of the shake or the overall increase in protein intake. Either way, nighttime shakes can improve results and satiate late night food cravings.

black ice shaker bottle

Make Protein Shakes Part of Your Daily Routine with an Ice Shaker Bottle

No matter what time of day you decide to drink your shakes, protein powder does result in muscle regeneration, extended satiation and an overall healthier diet. If you’re planning to incorporate protein shakes into your daily diet, or if you already do, it’s worth investing in a quality protein shaker cup to make the process quick and easy while also whipping up shakes free of protein powder clumps. The Ice Shaker protein shaker bottle can keep your drink cold for more than 30 hours and provides a convenient bottle that can be carried along to the gym or office.

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