Should You Drink A Protein Shake Before Or After A Workout? – Forbes Health

It’s important to consider the type of workout—and the reasons you’re working out in the first place—when deciding which foods to consume around that workout, says Brian Carson, Ph.D, a senior lecturer and researcher in exercise physiology and head of science and innovation for Whole Supp, a plant-based protein shake company in the UK “With protein, the aim is to stimulate muscle protein synthesis to maximize muscle growth and strength,” he explains, noting that a lot of older research often recommends consuming protein immediately after exercising, which has shown to promote muscle protein synthesis.

However, according to more recent research, drinking a protein shake right after exercise may not be as necessary as previously thought. A small 2017 study on 21 young men with more than one year of resistance training experience examined the importance of post-exercise protein supplementation. For 10 weeks, one group consumed 25 grams of protein immediately before resistance training and the other group consumed the same amount of protein after training. Interestingly, at the end of the study, both groups had similar muscle development results. Researchers thus concluded that the determining factors of protein consumption should depend on an individual’s preference, tolerance and availability.

An older study from 2006 analyzing protein supplementation on older men found results. After 12 weeks of resistance training, there was little difference in muscle mass and strength gains between the before-training protein drinkers and the after-training protein drinkers.

While more research is clearly needed—both of these studies are limited by their small sample sizes and exclusive focus on men—existing information suggests there’s likely some flexibility with the timing of your protein shake, says Dr. Carson. In fact, the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) suggests that the “correct” timing for your protein shake may depend on when you consumed your last meal, as well as the size and nutrient composition of that meal and your total recommended daily protein intake.

Sufficient Daily Protein Intake: The Most Important Factor

All things considered, sufficient daily protein intake and the quality of that protein (it should contain a high proportion of essential amino acids) are the most important aspects for muscle growth and repair, explains Dr. Carson.

“Someone who takes just a protein shake after a workout and doesn’t consume any additional protein sources the rest of the day would be worse off than someone who meets their total needs, even if they don’t focus on post-workout protein, Adds Stephanie Hnatiuk, a registered dietician and owner of Stephanie Hnatiuk Performance Nutrition in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

What Is the Anabolic Window and Does It Matter?

The anabolic window is a much-debated theory postulating that there’s a brief window of time post-exercise where muscle gain can be maximized through the consumption of macronutrients, principally protein, says Dr. Carson.

“There’s a myth that the anabolic window is only 30 minutes. This, in fact, is not true,” says Hnatiuk.

While individuals who exercise in a fasted state are typically advised to consume protein soon after their workout to aid in muscle growth and recovery, that protein consumption window may be even wider for individuals who don’t exercise in a fasted state—especially because individual factors like body composition, age and activity level can all play a part in optimal muscle growth.

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