Protein shakes are a great way to get lean protein right when you need it, whether at the gym, at the office, or on the road. But when should you drink protein? In order to achieve maximum protein absorption, however, it's important to understand the "optimal" protein intake window to give your muscles the building blocks they need.
It is good to drink protein at least a half an hour before you work out. This sets up the "anabolic window" that provides your muscles with a safety net of adequate nutrition, thereby lessening the breakdown of muscle while weight training.
By now it's common knowledge that the building of strength and muscle happens after the workout, when your body works to recover from the strain placed on it by weight training. Although it's not as crucial as has been previously thought, consuming protein about 15-30 minutes after a workout is optimal, because your muscles are like sponges and are ready to soak up any nutrition they can for muscle growth and recovery.
Drinking protein right before bed can help to stabilize blood sugars, provide metabolic support, and continue to provide your body with nutrition during the 6-8 hours you're asleep. According to Jeff S. Volek, Ph. D., R.D., opting for a slower-absorbing protein such as casein protein can help boost protein synthesis for up to seven hours while you sleep.
In the Morning
After six to eight hours of sleep, your body has gone a long time without proper nourishment. Drinking a protein shake when you wake up can aid in building muscle, provide energy to your body, and prevent muscle from breaking down due to lack of nourishment. It is important to include protein in the first meal of the day as it not only provides your muscles with the necessary building blocks, but also helps keep you satisfied until your next meal or snack.
Need some new protein shake recipes? Check out our recipe page here.