When is the Best Time to Consume Protein?

Protein consumption has been a controversial among fitness enthusiasts for some time, but the fact that we need need a good deal of protein to stay healthy has become common knowledge. 

So when is the best time to consume protein? There’s not a simple answer to this question, however a good starting point is assessing your fitness goals and developing a strategy that suits your individual needs. The amount and time of day that you consume protein both make an impact on the effect that protein has on your body!

Here are the best times to consume protein based on your individual fitness goals:

Weight Loss

If you’re trying to drop weight, consider protein your best friend. You’ll want to stagger your protein intake throughout the day and have some at every meal, as well as snacks. Why, you ask? Protein is going to keep you feeling full throughout the day, which means you’ll be less likely to reach for unhealthy foods. It will help regulate your glucose levels, which keeps your metabolism and energy levels even throughout the day, allowing you to burn fat and stay motivated to make good food choices and keep up with your exercise regimen.

If your daily protein goal is 60 grams, try to plan out meals that have at least 20 grams. It’s not always easy to get that much protein, especially when you’re on the move, so plan ahead with portable, convenient sources of protein such as pre-cooked, grilled chicken strips, nonfat Greek yogurt, or a high quality whey protein shake supplement that can be easily mixed with water or almond milk.

Post Workout Recovery

Athletes looking to enhance their performance and aid post-workout recovery may want to consider a slightly different strategy for protein consumption, particularly for endurance training. Consuming protein before AND after a workout may be ideal- and combining pre-workout protein with a source of carbohydrates may help improve overall performance and reduce post-workout soreness. Athletes who perform resistance training may not need the pre-workout carbs, but can still benefit from extra protein intake both before and after a workout.

Building Muscle 

Proteins are the building blocks of muscle, which means that you’ll need to consume more protein that your body needs in its current state to build muscle. Your body naturally breaks down protein during weight lifting and resistance training, so replenishing that supply quickly is vital to ensure that your body builds muscle instead of dipping into existing protein reserves to recover.

Most trainers and athletes recommend consuming protein within one hour of training. This one hour period is often referred to as an “anabolic” window, and is considered the optimal time to maximize the benefits of post-workout protein consumption. However, a recent study from the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that this window may be longer than previously thought, and may extend up to two hours.

Preventing Loss of Muscle Mass

Aging is accompanied by major changes in body composition that can negatively affect functional status in older adults, including a progressive decrease in muscle mass, strength, and quality, accompanied by an increase in fat mass. When we lose muscle, we are at an increased risk for bone fractures, illness, and other diseases that can shorten our life span. (Source)

One of the best ways to prevent muscle mass as we age is to increase our protein intake throughout the day. Individuals at risk for muscle loss should consume protein at every meal and spread their intake out evenly throughout the day. There may also be added benefits of consuming protein before bed. Protein consumed before bed is more effectively digested and absorbed, which increases bioavailability the next day. 

To Sum it Up

Protein is an essential nutrient that we all need to survive, but consumed at the correct times, it can also help support individual health goals. Consider putting some of the strategies into action to help achieve yours. 





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