Health & Habits
When Should You Take Your Protein Powder?
Posted March 15, 2021
If we choose to supplement our diets with protein powder, the timing of when to take it is an important question to ask. Some of us just love the convenience of taking a protein shake on-the-go, while others religiously utilize it as a supplement to reach our health and fitness goals. Whether we’re looking to lose weight, maintain our physique, or gain muscle, protein powders can be a great tool to ensure we’re hitting our numbers. The best time of day to consume it can depend not only on our goals, but also our schedule and personal preferences.
Starting with the morning, our breakfasts can be greatly enhanced by consuming a nutrient dense protein shake. The traditional breakfast foods like muffins, bagels and cereals can cause glucose levels to soar and the pancreas to pump out insulin. Once that glucose is quickly metabolized, our blood glucose levels plummet. Even though we may have been initially full, our hunger sets in two hours later as our energy crashes. Blending nutritious sources of fat and protein will keep us satiated, prevent fatigue and provide a consistent flow of energy. A smoothie full of protein powder, nuts, berries and greens can be a great option first thing in the morning.
If some of us prefer to exercise in the morning, a simple pre-workout protein shake with water can be highly beneficial. Consuming it roughly an hour before training can be enough time to absorb the protein without having to worry about feeling bloated or sluggish while exercising. The amino acids from the protein will be available in our bloodstream both during and immediately after our workout to help our bodies build and repair lean muscle tissue.
Regardless of when we exercise, one of the most popular times to consume protein powder is after a workout. When we exercise, we cause micro damage to our muscular tissue (and our bones as well, depending on the movements) which requires repairing. We also burn energy stored in our muscular tissue as glycogen to fuel our workout, so getting in quality, easily digestible protein thirty to forty minutes after a workout is imperative. If not, we risk sub-optimal regeneration and repair, and our bodies can even go as far as using our muscle tissue as fuel, which can defeat the purpose of training.
Just as protein powder can be a great way to start our mornings, it can be equally as beneficial to end our evenings. If we didn’t hit our protein requirements that day, or had a particularly rough workout, consuming a protein shake either during or after dinner can help us stay on target. In one study, scientists even concluded protein consumption before bed is an effective strategy to promote muscle growth and adapt to exercise. Protein powder consumed at this time increases the availability of protein to muscles throughout the night, but it’s important to be mindful of the potential interference this digestion may have with the quality of our sleep.
Our evening protein intake should also be richer in tryptophan, which is an amino acid essential for the body’s production of sleep and happiness hormones. If following a plant-based diet, then sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, oats and/or rice protein will do the job. Vedge Plant Protein is sourced from three fantastic sources of plant protein - organic pea, organic pumpkin seed and organic sunflower seed protein for a complete amino acid profile. It’s also lactose- and gluten-free for easy digestion, any time of the day.
Protein powders today have seemingly become a necessity for an active lifestyle, right alongside high-tech fitness trackers and cutting-edge footwear. Although protein shakes may be a convenient way to take in calories at any time throughout the day, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re always the best option. Whole food sources are still our best bet for getting vital nutrients. It’s important to build our diets around a base of solid food and use protein powders for what they are - supplements - when it’s healthy and convenient.
Written by Brett Malaney
Tim Snijders, Peter T Res, Joey SJ Smeets, Stephan van Vliet, Janneau van Kranenburg, Kamiel Maase, Arie K Kies, Lex B Verdijk, Luc JC van Loon, Protein Ingestion before Sleep Increases Muscle Mass and Strength Gains during Prolonged Resistance-Type Exercise Training in Healthy Young Men, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 145, Issue 6, June 2015, Pages 1178–1184, https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.114.208371