The Big Question is Should You Drink Your Protein Shake Before, During, or After Your Workout?

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Having a hard time figuring out when you should have your protein shake?


Protein shake before or after workout? Hmm, I don’t know!? It depends on your fitness goals, and how much protein you have daily.


How much protein should I have and when?

Your daily protein intake will depend on your fitness goals, In general, it is recommended to consume at least 1.2 – 1.5 grams of protein per day for each pound of lean body mass you have. If you are very physically active slightly more, slightly less if you are not. This will make sure your muscle protein synthesis is working at an optimal level, and you will not lose any muscle mass.  Many people over do the required protein by using their body weight and not lean body mass. It’s important that you use lean body mass not body weight.

This can be achieved by drinking protein shakes, meat, and/or dairy products each day. If you do not eat any animal product, then your daily intake will have to come from other sources of protein such as eggs, nuts, seeds, beans, protein powders, etc. 

If you are working out, or exercising regularly you will need to increase your protein intake over someone who is sedimentary. 

Timing on when you eat is crucial to what you are wanting to achieve.


For example, if you are trying for weight loss, fasting for longer periods of time would be ideal while still eating only at a slight calorie deficit.  This will cause your body to burn more stored fat while not negatively affecting your metabolism.  8-16 Fasting is a common fasting period used now.  You have a window of time 8 hours during the day you can eat what you want/need after that 8-hour period you try not to consume any calories.  A Good example is eating between noon and 8pm.  You can set your ideal window of time for your schedule.



Muscle Building


If you are looking to gain bulk, muscle growth or lean muscle mass the timing is important along with proper nutrition.

Bulking: You will want to have some kind of pre-workout and post-workout protein or weight gainer along with a carbohydrate of some kind for extra energy.  The best way to achieve this is through overfeeding your muscles and heavy weight lifting sessions which have been shown to help build muscle fast.

Gaining Muscle Mass: For building muscle mass, you will want to consume enough protein and carbohydrates throughout the entire day but especially right before training sessions and after. Protein and carb consumption needs to be high enough to stimulate muscle growth but small enough not to promote fat retention.

Lean Muscle Mass: For those who are interested in gaining lean muscle mass without bulking up, you should incorporate a high intensity workouts combined with low volume moderately heavyweight training.  On weight training days you should have a pre-workout protein and post-workout protein source for energy, and fast before cardio to help burn fat.

For someone wanting this the most common recommendation is to consume protein around 20–30 minutes prior to exercise, and some people even drink their protein drink while working out along with a carb source and protein after their workout.  This is especially true for those who have long gym regiments and are looking for muscle bulk.  

Fat Loss


People who are looking to lose weight and burn body fat should consume their protein 20-30 minutes following your workout. This gives your body time to burn its glycogen energy stores but not go into catabolism and use your muscle tissue as fuel.

Exercise on an empty stomach makes you burn through liver glycogen faster which will allow you to access body fat faster as well. You can quickly burn body fat using fasted workouts and cardio.  Fasting should be part of your daily diet.

Regardless of what your goals are there is a period of time after you work out that your body goes into called the Anabolic Window. During this period of time post workout we tend to experience catabolism due to increased cortisol levels. Cortisol causes us to break down tissue and reuse them for energy. 

Catabolism is when your body rids its self of damaged cells and if starved for food will break down muscle fibers.  The anabolic window starts about 30 mins after training and lasts approximately two hours. 

Losing these muscle fibers could result in muscle loss.  Which could lead to decreased strength gains and decreased metabolism over time.  It’s important to feed your body after intense workouts. 

Make sure your nutrition goals are in line with your fat loss goals.  You will need to have high quality protein especially after your workouts!  If you are unable to eat enough protein you’ll need to substitute it with a good quality protein powder supplement.  We recommend our Active Whey Protein Supplement.  It’s made of two parts that affects its absorption rate one part fast-absorbing protein (isolate) and one part slower rate(concentrate) to give you quick and long-lasting energy.  Protein supplementation can be used to replace up to two meals a day as long as you eat a healthy balanced meal once a day.


All in all, make sure you’re fueling your body properly before, during, and after your workouts.  Protein helps with your muscle recovery after your workouts. 

People who engage in physical activity need more protein to support their growth. 

Common questions


Why am I not gaining muscle mass when I’m working out?

The reason why you are having trouble gaining muscle mass is because you are not taking advantage of the anabolic window.  Usually when people star doing research on how much daily protein intake they really need and when to take it they realize they are underestimating their needs.

What are the benefits of working out fasted?

If you work out fasted, you will deplete your body’s energy stores which will cause you to start burning stored fat from your cells.  This will make a difference in how fast you are able to lose weight.

How long before workout should I drink protein shake?

20-30 minutes if trying to gain muscle mass.  You want it to have passed through your stomach to keep you from getting nauseated from exercise.  Especially if you are doing any cardio.

When should you drink protein shakes?

If trying to lose weight 20-30 minutes after your workout, else 20-30 minutes before your workout to provide extra energy in your workout.

What happens if you drink protein shakes before workout?

Provided you don’t drink it to soon before your workout, you provide your body extra energy needed to help you push your body and make more gains in your workouts and help you create more lean muscle

Is it okay to have protein before a workout?

Of course it is, just make sure if you are trying to lose weight you consider working out in a fasted state and eating after your workout.

Is it okay to drink 2 protein shakes a day?

Yes, as long as you don’t have too much other protein during the day.  You should keep your protein intake level around 1.2 – 1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass.  Too much protein is hard on your liver, so going more than 10-15% over the recommended amount for longer periods of time could be bad for your body.

What happens if you drink protein shakes without working out?

You just supplement your protein intake.  Unless your protein shakes have extra calories you should not gain weight while drinking one, and if you are trying to lose weight replacing a meal or two a day with a protein shake can help you achieve your weight loss goals.

 Click here for our Whey Protein Shake Recipes.  We have over 100 recipes and counting that we will be adding to our list.  These will help you not get bored with the same old protein shake day in and day out.


Do you get enough protein in your diet?  
Chances are you don’t.  You either need to find more protein sources, or supplements your existing sources.  
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