Many people drink protein shakes after their workouts to help maximize results and gain more muscle – along with toned, lean figures. But when it comes to the exact timing of when you should drink a protein shake, is there really a “magic window” of success where you need to consume it in order to get the muscle benefits?
This article will delve into the current research to reveal if there’s a certain “protein window” in which you should get the macronutrient, for the best results. Read on to find out whether or not protein before your workout or a post workout shake is best – and what that means for your health and fitness goals…
First: Why Consume More Protein?
If you aren’t currently combining a protein shake and a workout, you might be wondering if you should. After all, research shows that people who exercise more – especially strength training workouts – absolutely need more protein in their diets than those who don’t.
How much protein is needed, exactly?
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.36 grams per pound (0.8g/kg) of body weight – but that is if you aren’t very active. This is simply the amount you need to avoid a deficiency, but your goal should be to consume more for weight loss or muscle-building.
In fact, some research shows that those who routinely strength train may actually need double the RDA (or 0.72g per pound) to support muscle recovery and growth! But instead of just doing the simple math, we recommend that you use a calculator tool to find out how many calories, (along with protein, fat and carbs) you should consume each day – based on your individual metrics and goals.
This keto calculator is based on daily dietary needs of 20-25% protein, 70-75% fat and 5-10% carbs. But if you aren’t following the keto diet, you can still use the calculator to figure out your protein needs; While health organizations recommend 10-35% daily intake of protein, you definitely want to be on the higher end to assist with muscle growth and recovery.
Therefore, using the calculator tool, a 40 year old female who is 150 lbs., 5’6 and does a moderate amount of exercise each week needs about 106g of protein (or more) per day to maintain her current weight – with lesser amounts if she wants to lose weight.
Does Drinking a Protein Shake After a Workout Matter?
As you just learned, protein shakes are a convenient way to get more vital protein into your daily diet. But now, let’s look at the answer to “When should I drink protein shakes?”
Currently, many people in the fitness world believe that you should have a post workout shake right away (or within 30 minutes) after exercising. It’s thought that in this “magic window” of time, your muscles absorb more protein, which can therefore lead to greater muscle gain; However, research contradicts this myth about protein shakes!
While it’s absolutely beneficial to drink a protein shake after a workout, it may not be any more beneficial than having one before your workout…
In one study of 21 men split into two groups, half consumed a protein shake before, and half consumed a protein shake after their whole-body workouts, 3 times a week for 10 weeks. At the end, there was no major difference in muscle strength or size between the groups! This suggests that it’s more important to consume protein around your workout time, but with no set time window.
Daily Protein Intake More Important Than Shake Timing
That being said, additional research takes things even a step further, suggesting that it may not be necessary to have a protein shake before or after your workouts – but that instead, any time of day is beneficial. In one meta-analysis, researchers looked at the findings of 23 studies on the potential effects of consuming protein around exercise and found that protein timing may not matter as much as previously thought.
Instead, it was discovered that total protein intake was the strongest indicator of bigger, stronger muscles, and not necessarily when the protein was consumed. This is another big win for protein shakes, which are an easy, nutritious and beneficial way to get more protein into your daily diet on a busy schedule. Which brings us to…
Protein Shake Powders: Which One Should You Choose?
Though the current research suggests that the time when you eat or drink your protein doesn’t matter that much, what about the type of protein? There’s still an ongoing debate over whether animal-based proteins work best for muscle-building, or if plant-based proteins can also be used.
Though animal-based proteins such as whey, casein and egg are popular (with whey being the most popular by far), plant-proteins are growing in popularity due to their numerous health benefits. Some of these proteins include brown rice, pea, hemp and chia seed powders. Soy is also an option, but one that we don’t recommend due to it being a mostly GMO crop in the US, and also having estrogen-mimicking abilities in your body.
However, for the rest of the plant-based proteins, they contain an abundance of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phytonutrients and more – and the research on whether or not they work as well for muscle-building is in their favor.
In a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was found that animal and plant proteins appear to benefit muscle health exactly the same. In the study, the participants’ muscle mass, bone mineral density and quadriceps strength were measured. And the results? They showed once again that those who had more protein intake overall had the best muscle mass and strength – and the type of protein didn’t matter.
Ready to pick out the best protein shake powder for you? Check out our in-depth reviews of the top diet shakes right now – including our #1-rated powder, 310 Shake; This plant-based shake offers clean ingredients, 15g of protein, 20 vitamins and minerals, superfoods and more. Increase your daily protein intake and start maximizing on your health and fitness goals, today!