By: Laura M. Howell
Protein shakes are no longer only reserved for the muscle-bound guys at the hardcore gyms. Protein shakes are sold everywhere and everyone seems to be drinking them. We’re mixing them in blenders, shaking them in cups and they are even available in a disposable drink box form. As the popularity of protein shakes has increased so has the variety of protein powder flavors and the rainbow of different fixings you can add to your shake. Protein shakes have become the new ice cream sundae in the fitness arena, if you can imagine it there’s probably a way to turn it into a protein shake. With the abundance of protein powder brands and flavors it makes you want to drink them ALL THE TIME. But, as we know everything in moderation...in the following paragraphs I will discuss the absolute best time to drink a protein shake.
The 30 minute Window of Opportunity
The best time to drink a protein shake is within 30 minutes of finishing your workout. I like to call this "the window of opportunity." The 30 minute window after your workout is a crucial time for your body. This is the time when your body and muscles are broken down the most. With proper fuel directly following your workout you can maximize the recovery of your muscles. Muscles grow by being broken down and then repairing themselves to come back stronger. When the demand on the muscle is greater the muscle will adapt by improving in strength and density. Having a protein shake with at least 20 grams of protein within 30 minutes of completing your workout can maximize your recovery and feed your muscles with the right type nutrients.
Are you a vegetarian? Or just interested in adding ore vegetarian protein into your diet? Check out the is article in the NME Learning Center: "Putting a Protein Punch Into Your Vegetarian Lifestyle: 5 Vegetarian Proteins You Should be Eating Now."
What About Essential Amino Acids
Muscles are made of protein. Protein is the building block of muscles. When you're training your muscles it only makes sense to follow a strenuous workout with a protein shake. That's why the best time to drink a protein shake is after your workout. Protein powder (in most forms) is a complete protein meaning it has all 9 of the essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. One of Amino acids key jobs is to transport nutrients throughout the body. In Essential amino acid's are essential helpers in the repairing of tissue and muscle. When you breakdown your muscles during your workout the bodies next job is to repair the tissue and deliver nutrients through essential amino acids into your muscles. It is the break-down and recovery (with the help of essential amino acids) of muscles and tissues that will get you back to the gym sooner and therefore reach your health goals faster. If you take advantage of the best time to drink your protein shake that's FULL of essential amino acids you will be on a fast-track to crushing your fitness goals!
Too Much of a Good Thing
There is no bad time to have a protein shake. With that said, there is such thing as having too much protein in a day. You do not want to exceed 2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds you would never want to exceed 300 grams of protein per day. The rule of thumb for an active individual is 1-1.5 g of protein per pound of body weight which would add up to 150 - 225 grams. Now, 150 grams of protein would be way too much protein to consume in 1-serving. The ideal way to maximize the benefit of protein and protein powder is to distribute the protein evenly throughout the day. So, if you're eating 5-times a day that would be 30 grams of protein for each meal. A protein shake is a great option for 1 to 3 meals a day. As stated previously the best time to drink a protein shake is always after your workout, but there is still plenty of added health benefits of protein shakes that you can continue to enjoy throughout your day.
With the availability, the ease of use and the affordability of protein shakes choosing to add a protein shake into your day seems like a no-brainer.
Want to know what my FAVORITE protein brand is? Head over to the NME website and download the totally FREE ebook: “ The NME Guide on Eating to Get Lean and Stay There.”
How many times a day do you enjoy a protein shake?