Protein is essential for preventing muscle breakdown, curving new muscle, and speeding up recovery after an exercise. For that reason, people who work out regularly consume protein shakes around their sessions to aid these processes and reach their fitness goals.
But the best time to take protein supplements is a highly contentious topic. Some people argue that chugging down your shake prior to a workout gives better results, while others believe post-workout is ideal. So, exactly when should you take your protein for optimal results? Let’s find out!
When is The Best Timing for Taking Protein: Before or After Workout?
In all honesty, whether to ingest protein before or after workout comes down to your personal preference. However, fitness enthusiasts recommend consuming protein 15 minutes to an hour after workout. This period often called the anabolic window, is believed to be when your body is in optimal condition to absorb nutrients. It’s said that your muscles respond best during this time frame, ultimately optimizing muscle growth and recovery.
Similarly, pre-workout protein boosts your energy levels and fuels your exercise, minimizing the breakdown of muscle fibers. And because protein supplements, in general, absorb quickly, pre-exercise supplements are a great option for people who don’t have time to prep full meals before their workouts.
But does eating right before or after a workout really help? What does research say?
Well, fitness enthusiasts need to understand that protein shakes don’t work like weight loss supplements.
While fat burners like these www.midss.org/fitness/best-fat-burner-men will work best when taken at a
specific time, recent studies have shown that the exact timing of your protein intake doesn’t really matter.
What’s important is the quantity and quality of the protein you ingest every day. Simply put, just taking
protein powder or shakes before or after workout will not give you any results if you’re not consuming
additional protein throughout the day to meet your total needs.
How Do Protein Shakes Work?
Protein shakes provide essential amino acids that our bodies need to build muscle and improve recovery after workouts. Whey, the primary ingredient in most protein shakes is fast digesting and has been found to stimulate muscle gain.
While you can find both premixed and powder shakes today, many people prefer the premade whey protein shakes because they absorb quickly and are the most convenient. But basically all protein supplements work the same. They boost your protein intake in cases where it may be impossible to do so with food or snacking alone.
Benefits of Taking Protein at The Right Time
As we stated, when it comes to protein intake, it’s more about how much you consume and less about when you consume it. However, there are still some benefits of taking protein before and after exercise.
Boosts Your Energy
Your body needs energy to perform physical activities, including your workouts. Consuming protein before exercise can raise your energy levels and optimize your physical performance, enabling you to make the most out of the workout. Also, having enough energy to fuel your workout means that your muscle tissue will not be broken down to release energy, which can be beneficial for people trying to gain muscle mass.
If you don’t have time to put together a meal before your exercise, a protein supplement can be a quick fix. A protein shake, especially, would be fantastic, as it gets absorbed quickly and keeps you feeling full.
Improves Muscle Endurance
Protein boosts your muscles’ adaptability to your training. If you plan to do a long or extra tough workout, taking protein before the exercise can help prep your muscles and keep them strong throughout the activity.
Promotes Muscle Recovery
Exercises like strength training cause our muscle fibers to stretch and contract repeatedly. This continuous movement causes small tears in the muscle fabric, and that’s why we feel sore the next day. Post-workout protein intake can help accelerate the healing of these little rips and get you back in shape quickly.
The essential amino acids in protein are crucial for building lean muscle. As we mentioned earlier, ingesting protein 15 to 60 minutes after your exercise can help increase the effectiveness of the muscle-building process. But don’t worry if you are a little late. Not taking your protein within the anabolic window doesn’t mean your last workout is wasted. However, it’s important that you eat a high-protein meal within a couple hours to keep your body from using your muscle tissue as a source of energy.
Refills Your Energy Reservoir
After an intense workout, you will likely not want to eat a full meal right after. However, your energy levels will be much lower and you still need to fuel your body to keep it functioning properly. A post-workout protein shake can help restore your energy levels and any fluid you lost through sweat. Plus it absorbs quickly so it will likely also bring your energy back up much faster.
The Bottom Line
While protein is essential for attaining your fitness and health goals, whether to take it before or after workout is totally up to you. The most important thing is to ensure that you are meeting your daily protein needs. Whether you want to grow muscle or maintain a steady body weight, your goal will not be met if you’re relying on pre- and post-workout protein alone to achieve it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Men and Women Have Different Timing for Protein?
While men tend to have more muscle mass than women and need to eat more protein to meet their daily needs, studies show that the response of muscle protein synthesis to workout is similar in males and females. Therefore, gender is not a key factor when it comes to deciding whether to take protein before or after exercise.
Which Natural Sources of Protein I Should Take?
Eggs, legumes, nuts, soy, white meat, fish, and Greek yogurt would be a great place to start. But generally, both animals and plants are great natural sources of protein. Just make sure to avoid red meat; it’s rich in unhealthy fats that may put you at risk of developing chronic diseases.