If you have been working out for a while, chances are you have been using protein shakes to help speed up recovery after your workouts, or to get more protein into your diet. It is a lot easier to meet your daily protein requirements (1 gram for every pound of body weight) when you are drinking 20-60 grams a day. However, when is the best time to drink your protein shake for maximum results? Like me (lifting for over 20 years), you may think you know the answer, but it turns out that we may have been mistaken.
OLD WAY OF THINKING
The standard for getting the most out of your protein shakes has been to drink them after your workouts. The thought being that once you breakdown the muscles during your workout, you have a 30-minute window where protein synthesis (turning protein you eat into muscle) is elevated. Since your whey protein shake is roughly absorbed within 20 minutes, it isn’t hard to see that a post workout shake is necessary to get the most out of your training session. However, it turns out that drinking your protein shake BEFORE your workout is better!
MAKES BCAAS MORE EFFECTIVE
Most strength athletes know the importance of drinking a BCAA powder during your workout. It lowers your cortisol levels (stress hormone, and #1 destroyer of muscle), and increases protein synthesis. When you have a pre-workout protein shake, your body uses BCAAs more effectively. Instead of using them to energize your workout, BCAAs are used to start the repair and growth process.
IT WILL BE EASIER TO LOSE FAT
Contrary to what we have been taught, fasted weight training is not the best way to lose body fat. If you want to get lean, one scoop of protein pre-workout is the way to go. A study in Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise showed that a pre-workout protein shake increased calorie burning for the next 24 hours.
YOU WILL BUILD MORE MUSCLE
It turns out that drinking a protein shake pre-workout will increase muscle protein synthesis for up to 3 hours. What does it all mean? You have now increased your post-workout anabolic window by up to 6 times! Also, a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed a pre-workout protein shake caused a significant reduction in cortisol (remember from above) for up to 24 hours following your training session.
If you aren’t getting enough protein in your diet, you will not gain muscle (unless you are a genetic freak). However, if you are, then the best time to take one of your daily protein shakes is before your workout. And if you use an intra-workout BCAA, your results will be amplified even more. Try drinking your protein shake pre-workout for a month, and see what happens.
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