You happily drop the 50 pound dumbbells to the ground with a loud crash and examine your body in the mirror, grinning in satisfaction at the obvious muscle tone that you have recently put on.
The exercise session was amazing and you’ve pretty much got one thing left to do to complete the mission: give your body the best nutrients to feed your muscles and help them grow.
But there is only one problem.
Between all of the articles you have been reading in your latest fitness magazine, you can’t decide if right now is the best time to drink your protein shake.
Even worse, you have no clue which shake will be the most effective.
You’ve heard of Whey, Isolates, Hydrolysates and Caseins but it’s all starting to get jumbled together and your muscles are starting to get cold.
It’s time to put the rumors to rest and get rid of all of this confusion surrounding protein shakes and the best time to enjoy them because it’s really is simple once you understand how your body works and the options that you have available to give it what it needs.
Let’s break down the best times to take protein supplements and the different types of protein that perform optimally at different times.
The Best Time to Drink Your Protein Shake
The serious bodybuilder will tell you that it is always a good time to drink a protein shake, and truth be told, that really isn’t a bad tip.
Amino acids are the building blocks to protein and proteins are the primary building blocks to lean muscle.
Essentially, you would think that the more you consume, the better of you would be.
The problem with drinking protein all day, every day, is that your body is not capable of using all of it efficiently and most of the protein you consume will go to waste.
If you have been working out and supplementing with protein for any period of time you know one thing for sure: it’s definitely not cheap!
So you want to be smarter in how you consume protein to help your body use it more effectively and keep more money in your pockets.
If you are serious about working out and seeing nice lean muscle gains, there are 3 key times of the day that you want to get some high quality protein into your system: early in the morning, right after a workout and before you go to sleep.
Early in the morning
Eating and getting protein into your body first thing in the AM is crucial to getting the most out of your shake.
Think about it:
When you first wake up, you have basically been without food for at least 7 – 8 hours, which is an extremely long time.
As the name breakfast implies, you literally want to “break” the long “fast” that your body has been on and fuel it with some key nutrients.
You want these potent ingredients to hit your blood stream and start feeding your body as soon as possible so you should be using whey protein.
One of my favorite morning shakes is one ½ cup of unsweetened almond milk, 1 scoop of protein, 1 teaspoon of stevia, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, ¼ of a banana and 1 cup of ice. Blend it all up and you’ve got a delicious dream of a breakfast shake with all of the protein that you need.
Right after Your Workout
To get the most benefit from your exercises you need to feed your muscles immediately, which will aid in muscle recovery and growth.
Whey Protein Isolate or Whey Hydrolysate are the best types of protein to take after a workout because they get into the bloodstream fast.
You want something that will fuel your body quickly and nourish your muscles which are now torn and broken down.
By using a protein that absorbs quickly, you are essentially reducing the response time and increasing the effectiveness of the shake.
While many will argue about which type of protein is better for post-workouts between the Whey Isolate and the Whey Hydrolysate, you really only need to know one thing to make your decision.
The Hydrolysate absorbs slightly faster but has not clinically proven to be more effective than the Isolate but it is more expensive because of the way that it is derived,
I stick with the Whey Isolate and the Dymatize ISO-100 is one of my main go-to post-workout snacks.
I know what you’re thinking at this point: “geez, I have to drink protein before I go to bed too?”
Yes, yes and yes.
The pre-bedtime shake is one of the most important protein shakes to drink if you are look to gain and keep lean muscle on your body.
Just like the early morning AM shake which breaks your 8 hour fasting period, the late night PM shake will prepare your body for the period where it will not receive active nutrients.
I say active because we still are doing to feed our muscles during the night passively and we’re going to do it by using Casein protein.
If you have never heard of Casein before, it’s ok, I didn’t hear about it for years until I started taking bodybuilding as more than just a hobby.
Casein is a slow-releasing protein, unlike whey concentrate, isolate and hydrolysate, casein frees it’s nutrients over time so you are not getting all of the protein at once.
This is amazing for a pre-bedtime shake because you will still be feeding your muscles extremely high-quality protein while you sleep!
When you wake up in the morning, even though you have not actively eaten any food for hours, your muscles will have been fed, replenished and fully recovered.
Casein truly does wonders when you add it to your daily regimen.
Having enough protein in your diet is extremely important for bodybuilders, workout enthusiasts and individuals who simply exercise as a hobby to stay fit and look great.
Ensuring that you consume protein at the right time will increase the effectiveness of your workouts and even save you a few bucks because you are using the supplement to it maximum efficiency.
You don’t need to drink five protein shakes a day to get fit because when you eat right and add protein supplements at the times when your body is most ready to use it, your body will thank you and your gains will be off the charts.
Sara Jane Adkins is a writer, food-lover and mother. Founder of Natural Healthy Living, she inspires people to become more nutritionally conscious while still enjoying the foods that they love to eat.
Her articles have appeared on Calorie Count, Share Care, Healthy Fit Natural, and the Chicago Tribune. Meet Sara, join her growing community, win prizes and live a healthier lifestyle by visiting Natural Healthy Living.