How to Optimize Your Protein Shake (Hint: When You Drink It Matters)

The protein shake comes in many varieties, from the kind you buy pre-blended or made to order at a smoothie bar, to your favorite homemade protein shake recipe you keep perfecting and tweaking with seasonal fruits and veggies. But is the shake recipe as important as when you drink it?

According to experts, protein shakes do more than just satisfy your hunger—they deliver amino acids to your muscle cells, which kickstart your body’s process of muscle protein synthesis, which basically repairs the muscle proteins, helping to build bigger and stronger muscle mass. This is an important part of the workout recovery process, therefore, when you consume your protein shake really matters.

A macronutrient, protein does our busy bodies good when it’s always in our system. In other words: consume protein with every meal, even snacks.

When it comes to those protein shakes, the optimal time may actually vary depending on your most recent meal or physical activity. If, say, you haven’t eaten in a few hours, you run the risk of the body breaking down muscle to fuel a workout. So, this would be an optimal time for a pre-workout protein-rich shake or smoothie. Plain and simple, it will prevent muscle protein breakdown during your workout.

However, endurance athletes or those training more than an hour who have recently eaten (within the last 90 minutes), may want to boost with a protein shake again just before the workout. Long workouts will burn off that hour-ago meal pretty quickly, so give yourself a boost before—or even during—your extended workout.

If you adequately fueled with a well-rounded meal before your workout and aren’t planning to eat within the next 2-3 hours after, go for the protein shake then to keep the amino acids in your system and support the muscle protein synthesis.

image: jules:stonesoup

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