When to Take Protein Shakes

There’s no questioning the importance of drinking protein shake for those who are into intense workouts. Truth is, the question for many is when to drink it: before or after working out?

Breaking down the facts about protein

Before we can answer the question above on what the right time to drink protein is, let’s lay down the facts first about protein powders and their benefits.

First off, protein is used for the production of muscles. It’s also used to manufacture enzymes, hormones, cellular messengers, nucleic acids, and components for the immune system. When our bodies don’t have sufficient protein, putting together structures that make up every cell, tissue, or organ won’t be possible. Our bodies also cannot produce the biochemical substances that are necessary for important things like cardiovascular function, growth, muscle contraction, as well as healing.


Image credit: John Lee (flickr.com)

Before or after workout?

This has been a longstanding issue among those who perform intense routines in the gym, especially those who are into bodybuilding. There are those who believe that it’s better to drink protein shakes before getting into strenuous exercises, while there are those who advocate drinking them when they’re done with their workout.

Truth be told, there’s no right or wrong in this debate. Drinking protein before or after working out is both fine. But if you really want to get the full benefits of the protein shake you’re taking, it’s better to gulp it down prior to sweating it out in the gym.  This is because pre-workout protein, specifically BCAAs or branched chain amino acids, will help fuel your muscles while you’re performing your routines. BCAAs don’t need to be processed by our liver. After they’re absorbed, they go directly to our blood stream, which are then picked up by our muscles.

Another advantage of taking protein before working out is the fact that it starts protein synthesis during the session instead of after it. Furthermore, you also burn more calories if you consume it before getting started with your training. There’s a study that found that a scoop of whey protein prior to training increased calorie-burning over the next 24 hours.

There’s also the ‘carryover’ effect of pre-workout protein-drinking as far as nutrients are concerned. Once you’ve taken protein, muscle protein synthesis levels remain high for as long as 3 hours. Now that’s a twin benefit right there: enjoying the benefits of elevated blood amino acids and carryover of elevated blood amino acid levels even after you’re done pumping iron.

Whether you take it before or after your gym sessions, there’s no doubt you’ll reap tons of benefits by taking protein as supplement (know about protein powder and the benefits of doing pre-workouts).


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