When is the best time to consume protein?

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This is a guest post by Nick Nilsson is Vice President of BetterU, Inc., an online exercise, fitness, and personal training company.

Question:

When should I consume my protein?

Answer:

1. Immediately After A Workout

If you only take protein once per day, this is the absolute best time to take it. Immediately after you finish your workout, your body needs raw materials to rebuild and recover with. If you don’t supply the raw materials through eating, your body will break down muscle from elsewhere in your body in order to rebuild the damaged areas. This is very counterproductive as you can well imagine. By taking in some protein (20 to 30 grams or so) within minutes after exercise, you provide your body with the raw materials it needs to recover without breaking down it’s own muscle tissue.

2. An Hour After A Workout

About an hour following a workout, your body has settled down from the excitement and is ready to really start rebuilding. The protein that you took in immediately following the workout has been metabolized and your body is looking for more. Another protein shake at this time is a good way to help speed recovery. Try to take in another 20 to 30 grams about an hour after working out.

3. First Thing In The Morning

Immediately upon waking, or as soon after that as you can manage, take a scoop of protein powder. Your body has just been through an (approximately) 8 hour fast and is hungry for nutrients. Feed your body! Protein powder is more quickly assimilated than solid food and gets into your muscles faster. This protein shot gives your metabolism a boost, which can help with fat loss. Be sure to follow it with a good breakfast, of course.

4. Last Thing At Night

Prepare your body for the long overnight fast by giving it a little something to work with. A good combination for this purpose is to mix a scoop of whey protein in with a small glass of milk. Whey is what’s known as a “fast” protein, meaning that it’s digested quickly, while milk protein (casein) is what’s known as a “slow” protein, meaning it’s digested relatively slowly. At night, you want your protein to be metabolized slowly so that your body gets a more even supply over the course of the night. By mixing “fast” and “slow” proteins, you get the benefits of the higher-quality whey with the slower digestion time of the milk.

5. In-between Meals

A quick protein shake can be a great snack in between meals. It helps keep your body supplied with protein all day long. This is especially useful if you tend to have long periods of time in-between meals. It could mean the difference between losing muscle and building or keeping muscle!

6. With Meals

Taking a protein supplement with meals is a handy way to increase the protein content of a meal. This is perfect for when you make a meal that is somewhat low in protein.

7. In The Middle Of The Night

This is a trick that bodybuilders sometimes use in order to keep their muscles supplied with protein throughout the night. Keep a pre-mixed protein shake right beside your bed. Although some trainers have been known to set alarms to wake up to drink it, I prefer to have it there waiting just in case I wake up, but I don’t try to wake up on purpose. If I don’t wake up, it’s right there ready for me to drink first thing in the morning! This strategy is more targeted for muscle growth rather than fat loss.

WARNING! Never drink a protein supplement immediately before working out! Some people do this thinking that it will give them an energy boost or give them a head-start for post-workout recovery. Basically, all it does is sit in their stomach and bloat them up. Valuable blood that should be going to working muscles gets sent to the digestive system to try and digest it. The same warning goes for taking protein during a workout. Don’t do it!

By following these protein-intake recommendations, you will increase the effectiveness of your supplementation. Even if you choose to take advantage of only one or two of these timing techniques, you will certainly see an improvement in your recovery ability.

Nick Nilsson is Vice President of BetterU, Inc., an online exercise, fitness, and personal training company. Check out his latest eBook “The Best Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of” at http://www.thebestexercises.com or visit http://www.fitstep.com

6 comments on “When is the best time to consume protein?

  1. cheers for this. basically drink it all the time.

  2. stephenbrown on said:

    great tips there ! relised ive been takin my protein at the wrong times mainly before traning !

  3. stephenbrown on said:

    great tips there ! relised ive been takin my protein at the wrong times mainly before traning !

  4. Btyler4606 on said:

    I have pretty bad muscle weakness, and I also carry a bottle of water with me to take pills so often. If I don’t drink a shake all at once and I spread it out in the water, is that kosher? 

  5. I train in the morning, about 30-40 minutes after having a small breakfast. should I drink the whey protein during this breakfast?

    • Marc David on said:

      If your breakfast already contains protein as it should, then you can save the shake until after your workout. I’m not a fan of drinking any type of protein shake before as it tends to bloat and is really not necessary. As long as that small breakfast contains protein and carbs to fuel you up before your weight session, you should be good to go.

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