When is the Best Time to Take a Protein Shake? – It’s Not What You Think

The best time to take a protein take is after your workout right? Your muscle need the extra protein to recover right? When it comes to your body and nutrients I don’t believe there is anything that is THAT cut and dry. There are always those darn variables.

While it is important to consume some sort of protein at max 45 minutes after your workout (arguably), that isn’t the only time of day you could take your protein and there isn’t truly a “best” time to take a protein shake.

Protein should generally be distributed throughout the day with each one of your meals to make sure your body is using it most efficiently. Although you will get the bulk of your protein from the foods you eat throughout the day it wouldn’t be such a bad thing to add a little more with a protein shake. Make sure that you are supplementing your diet with protein shake’s and not replacing protein-rich foods with your protein shake.

But when should you take it? Let’s take a look sometimes throughout the day that you could take some protein.

When You Wake Up

As much as breakfast is one of the lowest priorities (very guilty of this myself) of my morning, every person you ask will tell you that having a good nutritious breakfast is crucial to your fitness. When you wake up in the morning your body has not had any nutrients throughout the time that you were sleeping.

Whenever you skip breakfast you risk your body breaking down your muscle to create energy to keep your vital body functions running. Having a protein shake in the morning in addition to your breakfast offers your body the energy it needs so that it doesn’t continue with the muscle breakdown process.

Therefore, a protein shake is a great quick nutritious breakfast that you can have made within a minute and take it with you if you’re in a rush so you don’t completely skip breakfast. Grabbing a quick protein shake in the morning is a lot better than making that quick stop to the donut shop which would just give you a high carb overload.

Pre-Workout or Post-Workout

This is one of the most highly debatable topics, to take your protein before or after your workout. Well, there hasn’t really been too many major studies on this topic but a study has been done. This study was done with the purpose of trying to test out the anabolic window theory.

In this study, they randomly assigned participants into two separate groups. Each group was given and consumed a supplement that included 25g of protein and 1g of carbohydrate. One group consumed the supplement before their workout and the other group consumed the supplement right after their workout.

The results of the study were not what was expected. The results showed no true significant difference between taking a protein supplement before or after a workout. This study showed that the anabolic window could be a lot wider than we currently think and it could be as wide as several hours or even a lot more.

Rest Days

People always ask me if they should continue to take their protein shakes on their rest days, other than that protein shake that you were planning on taking before or after your workout nothing should change day to day when it comes to your protein intake. You still need to still consume the daily recommended intake

The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI), suggest for 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. That translate to 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

If you are someone that is horrible with math I will give you a quick calculation of my own body weight so you can see an example:

  • Weight: 220lbs
  • Daily Recommendation: 0.36g per 1lb

220lb/0.36g = 79.2g

So for myself, my daily recommended intake is 79.2g of protein.

So, on my rest days, this still should be my MINIMUM amount of protein that I should be consuming a day. Remember that right amount of protein for anyone depends on a lot of variables that includes but isn’t limited to activity levels, current muscle mass, what your goals are, age and overall health.

What Kind of Protein Shake Should Your Take?

While there are plenty of types of protein on the market today, whichever type of protein you ultimately decide to take it up to you. Let’s take a look at some types you can get:

  • Whey Protein Powder– Whey is one of two proteins that comes from milk. Whey is considered a complete protein as it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids. It also works faster out of the two milk proteins, and also leaves the body quicker.
  • Casein Protein Powder– Casein like whey is the other protein that comes from milk. Around 80 percent of the protein found in milk is casein. Casein is a complete protein and unlike whey, casein works slower in your body and stays in the body longer.
  • Soy Protein Powder – Soy protein which comes from soybeans is one of the few plants based protein sources that offer all 9 of the essential amino acids that you need. Although soy has become somewhat of a controversial topic lately, there are people in the world that consume large amounts of soy and are very healthy.
  • Egg Protein Powder – Egg protein is considered the gold standard of protein and it comes from, you guessed it, eggs. Egg protein is a good alternative to people that are not able to take whey or casein protein if they don’t want to go with a plant-based protein.
  • Hemp Protein Powder – Hemp has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. What you might not know is that hemp is one of the best plant-based protein sources out there. Hemp protein powder includes all of the 9 essential amino acids that you need.
  • Pea Protein powder – Pea protein powder has become more popular in recent years as well. It is a good option for people who are avoiding the dairy-based proteins. This is a protein that must be used as a supplement to your already protein-rich diet due to its amino acid profile not having all 9 essential amino acids but that isn’t a reason to not use pea protein powder.
  • Brown Rice Protein Powder – Brown Rice Protein is another good alternative to the dairy-based proteins. Brown rice protein is packed with antioxidants and many nutrients. It also carries a complete amino acid profile even though it is low in the amino acid lysine.
  • Weight Gainer Protein Powder – For those of you who want to bulk up or have a hard time bulking up this is the way to go. These proteins powders help you raise your daily protein, carbohydrates, and calorie intake to help you with your weight gain.

I don’t generally like to recommend a specific type of protein powder to people just due to the fact that I don’t know if you have a gluten allergy or a soy allergy so this entire list are all great proteins you can use to supplement to your daily diet.

Before I finally settled on the protein powder that I am taking today I just kept trying out new protein powders until I found one I liked.

Final Thoughts

Protein is extremely important to our daily diet. The time in which you take your protein might not be important as how much you take throughout the day. If you take your protein at the most optimal time during the day but don’t meet the overall daily protein requirement in your diet then the timing wouldn’t matter in the first place.

So remember you can supplement protein whenever you like throughout the day but it is important to make sure that you meet your daily protein requirement.

Protein is essential for your body to maintain your muscle mass as well as rebuild your muscles after a workout. So it is very important that you get enough for your body so that it does not start using your own muscles to provide energy for the rest of the body.

When do you take your protein shake? As always thank you for reading and if you have any comments, questions or suggestions leave them below and I will get back to you.



About Tony 38 Articles
Tony is a California based health and wellness writer who has a passion for weightlifting, fitness, and nutrition. You can find him frequently publishing on IronBeginner.com when he is not at the gym working out, or at the movie theater watching the latest Marvel movie.


  1. I always drink a whey protein shake right after working out, but after reading this, I might start drinking it before working out. Thanks for all the information!

  2. I personally love the brown rice protein. I get really bloated with whey protein so I tend to avoid it. But I like to take my protein multiple times a day

  3. This is a great article! I love how you describe each type of protein! My family always has whey in the house, but I found it makes me feel bloated, so I use plant based and that feels much better. But if I get the munchies in the evening, I have casein! Thank you so much for the info!

    • I find that whey protein makes me bloated sometimes too, using plant-based proteins is a great choice if you feel bloated from whey. Thanks for reading!

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