Many active people enjoy taking protein shakes as their supplement. That’s because they need more protein compared to those who are more inactive. Protein is a macronutrient that repairs, preserves, and grows muscles. Protein shakes can help in body composition such as managing weight, doing exercises, building musicals, and meeting daily protein intake.
If you're just starting in your fitness journey, you might wonder if there’s the right time for taking protein shakes. Taking it before or after a workout depends on your goals and choice, but keep in mind that the timing can affect your fitness results. Continue reading to better understand when it’s ideal to have your protein shake.
When Should You Have a Protein Shake? Before or After Working Out?
The answer to this depends on you and your fitness goals. But the time when you take it is less of a big deal than you might think. What you need to remember is that you should strive to meet your daily protein goals for the day because that helps you decide how much protein shake to drink and when.
Also, your meals before and after working out shouldn’t have an interval of more than 4 to 6 hours so that you can get the most out of building your muscles.
Taking protein shakes before working out can help in activating your muscles and adjust to your exercise routine, lessening muscle soreness and breakdown, and minimizing stomach rumbles during a workout.
Drinking it post-workout will grow your muscles, lessen inflammation, increase your energy if you’re tired, and restore any breakdown. For intense workouts such as CrossFit, HIIT sessions, and long-distance running, it’s recommended to have protein and carbs 30 to 45 minutes before and after exercise. For less intense workouts such as body weight training, walking, and yoga, there’s no need to take a protein shake pre- and post-workout.
That’s because you can get a sufficient amount of protein from your normal diet of 3 meals and a few snacks. Put simply, there’s no single answer to this question since it varies from person to person. Moreover, according to studies, the effects of taking protein shakes before and after a workout are the same in terms of increasing energy, improving overall body composition, and building muscles.
Advantages of Drinking a Protein Shake Before Working Out Minimizing Muscle Breakdown
Do you experience a sore body the next day when you work out? That’s because exercising breaks down muscle fibers. So, for a pre-workout snack, you might want a combination of protein and carbs.
Since protein has essential amino acids, which are your muscle fibers’ building blocks, you can make the process of absorbing protein in your body faster when you drink a protein shake before training. Studies also indicate that protein-packed snacks help in transferring protein for muscle cell repairs.
Improving Muscle Adjustment
Having a delicious protein shake before working out helps in improving your muscle adaptation to your training. That means protein helps your muscles to prepare. Research says that protein helps in muscle endurance to make you strong, especially for a long or extra challenging workout.
Fueling Your Workout
Protein is needed for your brain, muscles, and body to work and provide you with the required energy when you work out. You won’t have a good workout if you don’t have enough protein and carbs. It’s also crucial to optimize your physical performance and make the most out of your session.
Drinking a protein shake can help control your hunger if you haven’t eaten for 3 to 4 hours or have no time to eat a complete meal before your workout. This is a good option if you have less than an hour before exercising because your body can quickly absorb its nutrients.
Advantages of Drinking a Protein Shake After Working Out Repairing Muscle Breakdown
Protein can help in lessening muscle breakdown during your exercise and hasten recovery. As mentioned, muscles break down during your workout. So, if you drink a protein shake after your exercise, you prevent this process.
There are times when you can’t imagine having a complete meal after an intense workout. But, when you feel a bit nauseous or weak, research recommends drinking a protein shake to increase your energy and restore all the fluids you lost after sweating a lot. If you don’t have any appetite, 1 scoop of protein is good enough for easy digestion.
Growing Lean Muscles
Muscle gains are not the only benefit you get from drinking a protein shake post-workout. A 2019 study reported that you also get the essential amino acids from protein which are important for building and maximizing lean muscles. You have to keep in mind to take your protein within half an hour to an hour after your workout so that you can make the most out of this benefit.
However, it’s also not a problem if you go for a little more than an hour. Remember that your exercise won’t be a waste if you haven’t taken your protein shake within this period. You should aim to have a meal or shake with lots of protein several hours after your exercise.
There can be very small tears in your muscle fibers after intense exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine reported that the body responds to this by aggravating inflammation or delayed-onset muscle soreness. The good thing is that this can be prevented by high amounts of protein. Research says protein not only lessens breakdown but also diminishes inflammation which results in feeling less sore.
Choosing when to drink your protein shake depends on your preference and which is more convenient for you. Ultimately, the timing doesn’t hold as much weight considering there are benefits you can get from drinking it before or after working out.
What you need to remember is that protein should be a part of a healthy diet for active individuals. Intake of nutrients is also important. Protein shakes don’t often have ample nutrients and fiber. It’s best to consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for the ideal protein shake for your needs.
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