Best Time to Drink Protein Shake, Before or After Workout to Build Muscle

protein before or after workout for muscle gain

As you all know, protein is very crucial nutrient for your body to help build muscles, gives strength and stamina. The more protein in the body, the more muscles you develop.

For this reason, many people consume protein supplements in the form of shakes. This becomes also essential to consume protein when you do strenuous workout. Proteins gives you instant energy and recovers your body quickly.

Thus, people consume more protein in form of shake. Protein shakes are one of the most popular supplements in the market which is readily available at every store. You will find them at any health-food establishments and grocery stores.

This has been the debated topic when it comes to decide the best time to consume protein shake. Some believe that it’s best to drink protein shake before workout whereas others argue it is ideal to drink it after workout.

Well, to clear all your doubts, this article has been written to tell when it is best to drink protein shake, before or after workout…

Why Drink A Protein Shake?

In this era of on-the-go society, it is almost very hard for anyone to get solid 2-3 meals a day. in order to be fit and remain healthy, it is very important that you must fulfill daily requirement of your body nutrients.

Hence, adding protein shake in your daily routine would be a great way to hit protein goal for the day. Based on science research, there is 0.8-1 gram protein intake is recommended per pound of the bodyweight if you are maintaining or gaining weight.

protein shake

However, this estimation can vary and range from 1.1-1.4 gram per pound while trying to lose body fat. There exits absolute reason behind the difference between two protein intakes. One is that protein helps you with satiety as well as preservation of lean body while being on diet.

When you are taking excess calorie, you typically do not need much protein as your carbohydrate and fat intake will be high in your diet.

Obviously, you can along with these ranges depending on your need as these are just guidelines.


Exercise Needs More Protein


According to Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.36 grams per pound (0.8g/kg) of body weight. RDA is an estimated amount of a nutrient of a person which needs to avoid deficiency. It doesn’t imply the amount needed to optimize body composition or health.

As far as protein is concerned to support muscle recovery and growth, the RDA is too low for protein.

Researchers suggest that people who do strength workouts may need double the RDA or 0.72 gram per pound (1.6 g/kg) in order to reinforce muscle recovery along with growth. A person whose weight is 150 pounds requires approx. 109 grams of protein per day.

So as to optimize the results spread the amount over 3-4 meals that are consumed every 3-4 hours.

Protein shake is absolutely a good option between meals, no matter if you take it as a snack or around your workout.


Pre-Workout Protein Consumption

chia seeds, kale, lucerene

Consuming protein shake before workout is proposed to increase protein synthesis, prevent fatigue and burn more calories. The protein synthesis is accomplished by increasing amino acids.

Based on the study published in the American Journal of Physiology, two trials were conducted where in one trails participants consumed amino acid solution before exercise and in second trial, they consumed solution after workout.

Outcomes of the study demonstrated that ingestion of the amino acids changed net muscle protein balance from negative values to positive net uptake in both trials. However, the net response of the consumption of amino acids after the workout was greater than the response of amino acids consumption after workout.

Furthermore, the researchers concluded that the ingestion of relatively small amount of amino acids combined with carbohydrates before workout is superior to post-workout consumption. Another usefulness of pre-workout protein consumption is the increased calorie burning effects.

It is found that one scoop of whey protein prior to working increase the calorie burning. Though the exact cause of this fat burning is uncovered but it may be due to added metabolic effects of increasing protein and modifying substrates used during exercise.


Post-Workout Protein Consumption

post workout foods

Post-workout protein consumption is traditionally known to recovery muscles quickly and prevent muscle metabolism.

A report by Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition says that acute ingestion of whey protein after exercise demonstrated increase in muscle protein net balance, which in turn, results in net muscle protein synthesis.

The benefits of post-workout protein shake is to provide your body with an immediate fuel source to prevent it from breaking down muscle tissue for energy. To fulfill this, pair up your protein shake with source of carbs or fiber like 5 grams of fiber is best option.

The fiber and carbs will spare your body from consuming its own muscle for energy and protein will help repair your hard worked muscle and thus increases it ultimately.

This will help you meet after workout needs. Moreover, mixing up protein shake post your workout session help enhance the effects of your hard work as well as your recovery.


Pre-Workout Vs Post-Workout Protein Shake Consumption

prorein before and after workout

Based on the scientific literature out there, consuming protein/carb mixture within 2 hours of working out is much better recommendation. But for people who are dieting must consume carb/protein mixture an hour before your workout or within an hour after.

And those who are not dieting, timing doesn’t make much difference because preservation of lean mass is not a concern while in calorie surplus. With that, protein shake can be very handy tool in your fitness toolbox.


Daily Intake of Protein Is More Important

Some researchers have questioned if consuming protein around workout is essential or important to maximize gains.

Well, there is contradiction in this concept where few studies suggest it is beneficial while others reports no effects. Thus, these contradictions led researchers to analyze the finding of 23 studies on the effects of consuming protein around exercise.

Eventually, they found some interesting points in their studies. They found that total protein intake was strongest predictor of muscle strength and size regardless of whether people consume it before or after workout.

Henceforth, how much protein you consume per day is more likely to be important factor than either you consume it for gaining muscle size and strength and before or after workout.

optimal protein requirement chart

Related Post: What is the Optimal Protein Intake for Muscle Mass?


To Meet Protein Target to Build Muscles

As a point of fact, both plant-based as well as animal-based protein source can be helpful and will meet your protein requirement.

Animal-based protein which include meat, poultry, dairy and fish are high-quality protein sources meanwhile nuts, beans, legumes and soy are good sources of plant-based protein sources.

But, animal-based proteins are superior to plant-based proteins for muscle building. Protein shakes are convenient way to increase protein intake especially when you don’t get enough from food only.

The most common protein powders available in the market:

  • Whey protein: it is quickly absorbed in the body making it useful before or after workout.
  • Casein protein: it is digested slower than whey protein making it ideal during periods of fasting like sleep.
  • Egg protein: egg protein is digested at a medium rate and one of the most expensive protein supplements in the market.
  • Soy protein: it contains all of the essential amino acids which makes it complete protein source for vegetarians.
  • Rice and pea protein: it does not contain all the essential amino acids but mixing them makes it a complete protein.

building muscles

The Bottom Line

Protein plays vital role in repairing and rebuilding your muscles after strenuous workout and most often people consume protein shake right after their workout sessions to aid this process.

Basically, researchers suggest that it doesn’t matter at all if you drink protein shake before or after workout, what matters the most is the total daily intake of your protein.

Meanwhile, protein shakes are quite helpful during or around your meals but ensure that you get enough of it throughout the day. Foods along with supplement can help you meet your goals. There is absolutely no health risk involved with the use of protein shakes while following a high-protein diet.

Interestingly, consuming more protein than suggested RDA has more health benefits.

More Stories on: 7 Healthy & Tasty Junk Food Items For Gaining Muscle Mass

Maggie Herbert
Maggie is a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor, and sports nutritionists. She deepened her knowledge of nutrition after attending the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. Get Me on Social Channels: About Me | Facebook | Instagram | Google+  |  Quora

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