When is the Best Time to Take Protein?

July 29, 2022

People take protein supplements for many reasons: building muscle, losing weight, or improving their overall health and well-being. Protein powder is the most common form of protein supplement. But when is the best time to take it?

Here are the best times to take protein based on your specific health and fitness goals. 

How Protein Can Help You Lose Weight

Eating a high-protein diet can help boost your metabolism and reduce appetite. Protein reduces levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, which can curb your appetite, while increasing levels of appetite-reducing hormones. 

Consuming a high-protein snack between meals may lead you to eat fewer calories later in the day, reducing your overall daily calorie consumption. 

Tips for Building Muscle with Protein Powder

Protein is essential for building muscle. 

You need to consume more protein than your body breaks down naturally during resistance training or weightlifting in order to build muscle and strength. 

To optimize protein’s muscle-building capabilities, aim to consume protein within two hours after working out. Ideally, take a protein supplement, such as protein powder, 15-60 minutes after exercise. This timeframe is known as the “anabolic window”, which is said to be the ideal time for getting the most out of nutrients like protein.

That said, for the average person, resistance exercise and consuming sufficient protein are more important than timing protein intake.

However, if you train in a fasted state, such as before breakfast, you may benefit from taking protein right after working out as you haven’t consumed protein in a while.

Preventing Muscle Loss with a High Protein Diet

Maintaining muscle mass is especially important as you age. Research shows that people lose 3–8% of their muscle mass each decade after turning 30. Losing muscle is linked to a higher risk of fractures and shorter lifespan.

It is recommended to spread protein intake evenly across the day to prevent muscle loss with age. Aim to consume about 25-30 grams of protein per meal. Taking a protein supplement like protein powder at meals during which you consume less protein, such as breakfast, can help evenly distribute protein intake.

Exercise Performance and Recovery

For endurance athletes, taking protein with a source of carbs during and after exercise can result in improved performance and recovery and reduce soreness. 

For athletes partaking in resistance training, consuming protein either immediately before or after a workout can help improve both performance and recovery, whether or not it’s consumed with carbs. 

Should You Take Protein Powder Before Bed? 

If you’re looking to build muscle, increase strength and improve exercise performance and recovery, you may benefit from taking protein before bed. 

Studies show that taking protein before bed is an effective strategy to promote muscle building and help them adapt to exercise. This is because the protein is more effectively digested and absorbed, increasing the availability of protein to muscles for recovery throughout the night.

Following some of the strategies outlined above can help you to better use protein in your diet, enabling you to reach and maintain your health and fitness goals.

Need help identifying which protein powder is the best for you? Here is a guide highlighting 7 different types of protein powder!

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Written by

Ken Lu

Ken has a Bachelor's Degree of Psychology from the University of British Columbia, specializing in Sport Psychology. As well as being a Certified Personal Trainer, Ken is also a Movement & Mobility Specialist, and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He has trained for and won the 2018 NPAA BC Men's Physique Championship.