Best time to take a protein shake: before or after a workout?

Protein powders have become a popular dietary supplement for anyone leading a physically active lifestyle. Whether you’re heading to your gym for an intense workout or taking a quick walk around the block, you may be wondering when the right time to have your protein shake is. Some of us take it before our workout to get that much-needed energy boost before the session, while others prefer to take it post-workout to aid muscle recovery. Well, according to an expert, you can take it at any time depending on the purpose of your protein shake. You’re confused, aren’t you? Don’t worry, we will address your plight right here.

Health Shots contacted Dr Nirupama Rao, Nutritionist, Rejua Energy Centre, Mumbai, to know the best time to drink a protein shake.

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

Consuming a protein shake, before or after a workout, depends on your specific fitness goals and personal preferences.

Improve your physical activity by taking a protein shake at the right time. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Reasons to take a protein shake before a workout

1. Energy and performance

“Taking your protein shake before your workout can amplify your workout by giving you a boost of energy,” says the expert. It goes without saying that you need a little energy before embarking on an intensive workout. Taking your protein shake before a workout can improve your performance by increasing your endurance during training.

2. Prevents muscle breakdown

A pre-workout protein shake can help prevent muscle breakdown during your workout. This is especially important for people who engage in prolonged or intense exercise.

3. You will feel full

“Protein can cause a feeling of fullness, which can be beneficial for those looking to control their appetite during or after a workout,” says Dr. Rao. It also helps with weight management and can speed up your weight loss journey by helping you avoid binge eating due to the strong post-workout hunger pangs.

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Also read: Protein: why and how to include this nutrient in your diet

4. Convenience

Some people find it more convenient to prepare a shake before heading to the gym and consume it shortly before starting their exercise routine.

Protein shake before or after training
Protein shake before or after training? We answer everything here. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Reasons to take a protein shake after a workout

1. Recovery and muscle growth

“Consuming a protein shake after a workout is a common practice because it promotes recovery and muscle growth. Exercise, especially strength training, causes micro-tears in muscle fibers, and consuming protein post-workout provides the amino acids needed to repair and rebuild these muscles,” says Dr. Rao.

2. Protein synthesis

After exercise, the body is more receptive to protein intake, a period often referred to as the “anabolic window.” Consuming protein during this time can improve protein synthesis, leading to better muscle gains.

3. Refuel

A post-workout protein shake can help replenish glycogen stores and provide the body with the nutrients needed for muscle tissue repair and growth, especially when paired with carbohydrates.

4. Reduce Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

The expert suggests that post-workout protein intake can help reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery.

So, as we said earlier, whether you consume a protein shake before or after a workout depends entirely on your goals. For most individuals, post-workout protein intake is highly recommended for recovery and muscle growth.

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