Home Nutrition When Is The Best Time to Drink a Protein Shake?

When Is The Best Time to Drink a Protein Shake?

Written by Jane Summerfield
  • It is really important to know when to drink protein shakes?
  • Can’t we just pick up a protein shake bottle and consume it when the need is felt?

Apparently, research suggests otherwise.

Studies have shown that consuming protein at certain times works better than others.   

In the following sections, we will try and find out which times are best to drink protein shakes.

In fact, let us get to know our protein shakes and protein powders very closely.

Why Are Proteins so Important for the Human Body?

Proteins are present in every cell in our body.

They are made of a chain of amino acids. In fact, amino acids are called the essential building blocks for proteins.

1) Cell Repair

The most important job of proteins is cell repair at the basic level.

Human cells have definite life spans and keep getting renewed and replaced by new ones. Any damage to cells also needs constant repair.

All of this is aided by protein in the body. Drinking protein shakes can help keep protein balance in the body.

2) Muscle Protein Synthesis

Known commonly as MPS, this is a vital function of protein in our body.

MPS refers to a metabolic process that helps incorporate amino acids into bound skeletal muscle proteins.

This is important for the smooth functioning of the musculoskeletal system. Protein consumption before and after exercise helps in this process.

3) Muscle Growth

Protein is needed for muscle growth and maintenance.

Whether one is an athlete or a normal person, healthy muscles are a must for proper body function.

Maintaining muscle mass as well as better protein synthesis will need the consumption of stipulated grams of protein.

4) Essential Amino Acids

These play an important role in many bodily functions.

They help in maintaining hormone balance and are good neurotransmitters.

Proteins are made of amino acids as mentioned earlier. Eating protein-rich food will help supply essential amino acids to the body.

5) Better Metabolism and Fat Burning

Proteins are essential for good metabolism.

Your protein intake will have an impact on how efficiently your body can break down food.

Protein also helps in fat burning and provides more energy to power workouts.

6) Prevent Anemia

Protein helps boost metabolism as mentioned above.

This means more oxygenated cells circulating in the body. This indicates a good flow of blood in the body in optimum amounts.

Depletion of protein levels in the body can cause anemia, making one feel tired.

Why Are Protein Shakes Needed?

So, can we not get the required amount of protein from our diet?

A normal person does consume protein in some form or other throughout the day. How does one know how much protein would be needed for them?

Every person will have different protein requirements.

Those who are very active and go for regular workouts will have a higher need for protein. A post-workout protein shake will work best for them.

Someone with a more sedentary lifestyle will have a lesser protein requirement. Whatever it is, protein is a necessary element for a healthy life.

There are different protein sources in our daily diet that can fulfill protein requirements. These are usually in the form of:

  • Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt.
  • Poultry like chicken, duck, and turkey.
  • Eggs.
  • Fish and seafood like prawns, crabs, and mussels.
  • Lean meats like lamb, beef, and pork.

Balanced consumption of protein does not always happen with a normal diet. This is because one cannot adhere to this level of accuracy.

We tend to slip up on following a diet.

Some other times, there might be enough protein intake but there might not be good assimilation.

Most importantly, essential amino acids which are building blocks for proteins, are not made in the human body and must be provided externally for muscle mass.

Lack of adequate protein in the diet is reflected in muscle protein synthesis resulting in loss of muscle tissue.

This is detrimental to health and can have far-reaching consequences.

This is where protein shakes and protein powders come into the picture.

These are formulated to deliver a certain amount of protein to the user for a certain amount of consumption.

Once you know how much protein you need in consultation with your dietician or trainer or guide, everything becomes easier.

While it is important to continue a high protein diet, protein supplements are a sure way to maintain your protein intake.

Formulated shakes and powders deliver the requisite amount in an easy-to-use and consistent form.

Different Types of Protein Shakes

There are three different types of protein shakes that one may choose from:

1) Whey protein shake

Whey is essentially the liquid that is left behind after curdling and straining milk. It is light but full of protein.

It is the essential ingredient in many protein powders and shakes. It is very useful to increase muscular strength and lean muscle mass.

This is why it is very popular among athletes, models, and bodybuilders. Having said that, it is a dairy-based protein.

This immediately excludes those who have lactose intolerance from using whey-based protein shakes.

2) Casein protein shake

This protein is found in milk and is responsible for the white color of milk. It provides the body with essential amino acids that are needed to build muscles.

Casein takes time to assimilate and get digested.

Taking this protein induces a feeling of fullness, thus reducing appetite and lesser calorie intake.

Being extracted from milk, this is also a dairy-based protein and is not good for those with lactose intolerance.

3) Soy protein shake

Soybean is very high in protein and soy protein is extracted from there.

This is a very high-quality protein and is useful for vegetarians who are aspiring to build a robust body.

It is available in the form of soy flour, concentrates, and isolates.

Your choice will depend upon your personal goals and what time of the day you wish to consume these.

What Ingredients go Into a Protein Shake?

Protein shakes and powders contain proteins in easily digestible form.

They include branched-chain amino acids that are the building blocks for proteins but are not made in the human body.

When you buy protein shakes like whey protein concentrate in pre-packaged form, there is a particular formula to each brand.

These are proprietary formulas with each company vying with the next to give the user the best value for money.

These are generally formulated to provide maximum protein to users, usually athletes and sports persons, who need specific sports nutrition.

However, it is possible to create your own protein shake at home, if you are okay with procuring all ingredients and getting down to making the same.

Remember that each of the ingredients chosen will depend upon what goal you wish to achieve, your personal inclinations, and in compliance with any dietary restrictions, you might have.

1) Liquid Base

Get a liquid base for your protein shake.

You can drink it as part of your post-workout routine.

You may choose from water, soy milk, dairy milk, coconut water, coconut milk, cashew nut milk, or fruit juice of preference.

2) Nutritional supplements

The more nutritional additives you put into your protein shake, the more will be the advantages.

Depending on what nutritional supplements you add, you may hope for better muscle repair, added antioxidants, and digestion-friendly shakes.

Your choices may be flaxseed oil or ground flaxseed, fish oil, chia seeds, creatine, and green powders like green tea, kale, or spirulina.

3) Texture

Texture adds another dimension to your protein shake.

Protein powders when mixed with water usually give a thin texture.

If you wish your own protein shake to have some more texture, consider adding crushed ice, mashed banana, mashed avocado, ice cream, Greek yogurt, oats, or nut butter.

4) Flavor

It cannot be only food value that will add appeal to you if your protein shakes lack flavor.

Store-bought protein powders come in a variety of flavors that make them more palatable to the user.

For your own protein shake, you can add flavor using different things like coffee, flavored yogurt, cinnamon, honey, agave, cocoa powder, and different flavor extracts like vanilla or peppermint.

5) Blender bottle

Once you have procured all ingredients to give you that incredible protein boost, all it needs to bring everything together.

A good blender bottle will do the trick for you. You have a variety of choices in this, from color, design, and capacity.

Go ahead, make your own protein shake and enjoy the taste and benefits.

How Much Protein Does a Person Need?

We all know that proteins are essential nutrients for muscle growth and the development of lean muscle.

What is important to understand is how much protein is needed. Requirements vary from person to person.

One cannot just pick up a protein shake and begin consuming it indiscriminately.

Remember that calibrated and recommended amounts can do a world of good for muscle strength and performance.

However, consuming more protein than needed can negatively impact the body.

Protein requirements are also dictated by your goals.

  • Do you wish to lose weight or you are looking at weight gain?
  • Are you focused on better workout results and more endurance?


Please note that these protein recommendations are approximate and will again vary from individual to individual.

It is advisable to decide on the amount of protein supplement dependent upon your body weight and in consultation with a dietician.

Calculation of Protein Requirement for Individuals

There are guidelines set down by the National Academy of Medicine that help to decide how much protein a person needs for a healthy lifestyle.

According to this, adults must have 0.8 grams of proteins for every 2.2 pounds of body weight. This is the baseline amount for sedentary individuals.

This requirement will vary depending upon the activity and needs of every individual.

An athlete will need way more protein, a pregnant woman will have different needs, those wishing to gain or lose weight, or those recovering from illness, each category will require different amounts. 

Protein requirement by body weight.

In this method, daily protein requirement is arrived at by dividing body weight by 20 and multiplying by 7.

Alternatively, one may multiply body weight by 0.36 to arrive at an approximate protein requirement.

Protein requirement by calories

In this method, protein requirement is calculated by the number of calories one uses up in a day. To give an idea, 1 gram of protein gives 4 kcal.

This means if a person’s intake is 2000 calories daily, they can consume 50-125 g of protein a day.

One may use an online tool also in order to determine their daily protein requirement.

When Should One Drink Protein Shakes?

So, when do you drink a protein shake for the best effect?

Studies have shed light on when best to consume protein.

For those aiming for lean body mass, it is even more important to know the best times for ingesting protein.

Previously there was a notion that one must take a protein shake at a certain time only.

However, recent studies show that protein shake before bed or post-workout protein intake is beneficial as long as backed up by a balanced diet and proper workout.

The point is to take enough protein to fulfill your bodily requirements.

It is also pertinent to note that not every rule applies to everyone.

What you wish to achieve will determine how much protein you need.

It will also decide the most suitable timing for you.

Discussed below are some common times for drinking a protein shake:

1) Morning Protein Intake

There is not much evidence to suggest that a morning intake of protein powder or shake does anything for you.

Unless of course, you are working out early morning, which in any case comes under a pre-workout consumption.

This time is ideal for those looking for weight loss.

It helps control cravings and gives a feeling of satiety, thus restricting consumption to fewer calories.

This should be followed up by balanced meals and workout routines to reach your weight loss goals.

2) Pre-workout protein intake

Are you drinking protein shakes before a workout?

Yes, it has its pluses too.

Studies have established that the consumption of carbohydrates with proteins helps power workouts for athletes.

There is better endurance and reduced muscle wear and tear for them.

It is also seen that muscle protein synthesis is improved with pre-workout consumption of protein bars and shakes.

It also helps to lose weight more effectively. A judicious choice of protein shakes with carbs will make it more easily digestible.

3) Protein During the Workout

Sipping on a protein shake during a workout?

It is not a bad idea at all.

It might not sound convenient but works well for athletes doing endurance training.

Sipping on a shake every 10-15 minutes helps maintain energy and cut down muscle damage. It also helps to control blood sugar levels.

This routine is good for those on resistance training to maintain a positive protein balance.

It has been seen to improve performance in athletes. 

4) Post-workout Protein Intake

By far the most popular time for drinking a protein shake is after a workout. Its benefits have been established by studies and felt on the ground too.

It has been seen that athletes need 10 grams of essential amino acids within two hours of working out.

These are the building blocks for proteins but the human body does not make them.

They have to be supplemented from the outside. 

Dairy products like milk are rich in amino acid leucine and help in muscle gain.

Besides this, milk has casein and whey proteins, both of which are good for the body.

Supplements with whey protein suit post-workout needs, since it is absorbed faster by the body.

Check your supplement for these specifications: 

  • Whey protein isolate. This is 90% protein with minimal lactose and fat.
  • Whey protein powder. This has 11-15% protein and is usually used in meal replacement shakes.
  • Whey protein concentrate. This contains 25-89% protein with lactose and fat and has a better taste.

5) Protein before bedtime

Many people drink a protein shake before bedtime.

This helps with overnight muscle protein synthesis.

It also improves skeletal muscle adaptive response. MPS and MPB (muscle protein breakdown) are cyclic processes that go on in the body constantly.

Taking a protein shake before bedtime helps to maintain a positive protein balance in the MPB phase. 

There is also more energy that aids your endurance and resistance training the following day.

Overnight repair and rejuvenation of muscles are also aided when you take a protein shake before bedtime.

It is also believed to help in weight loss because protein gives a boost to the metabolism.

Bedtime protein shake also gives better sleep quality.

It is important to note that casein protein takes longer to digest compared to whey protein.

This makes it the choice of protein for bedtime shakes.

This helps maintain a higher essential amino acid level.

In Conclusion…

So, the consensus is that for building muscle and maintaining healthy muscle tissues, protein shakes play an important role.

They also play a big role in muscle protein breakdown.

This is a metabolic process that helps in muscle remodeling to fit in with your workout regime. It is also important for muscle growth.

When you take it depends upon your goals and supportive lifestyle changes.

Post-workout is the most popular time for all the benefits it offers.

Athletes should consult specialists in sports nutrition for finalizing their choice.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When should I drink a protein shake?

Decide your timings and amount of protein intake depending upon your lifestyle and your goals. If you are going long durations without ingesting enough protein, plugging that gap with protein powder or shake will be good for you.

Is it better to drink your protein shake before or after a workout?

It is a common consensus that a post-workout protein shake is best for the body. It helps make up for losses during a workout. It is also important for muscle building and to address any wear and tear sustained during a workout.

Is it OK to drink a protein shake on an empty stomach?

For consumption on empty stomach, whey protein concentrate is supposed to be the best. It gives the required nutrition for the upcoming workout. Being in liquid form, it is easily digested and absorbed by the body.

Is it OK to drink a protein shake every day?

It is okay to drink protein shakes every day, whether you are working out or having a rest day. The point is about getting your daily dose of protein, irrespective of the timing. You will not burn enough calories on rest days, so make sure you are ingesting protein proportionately.

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