Just picking the right protein isn’t the only objective to achieve your muscle building and fitness results. The timing to which you get your protein is just as important as a high quality protein source. Understanding when to eat protein is the key to unlocking your anabolic state and fat burning process from your muscle tissue.
Your body can utilize protein every time you eat protein. Though during certain times of the day or after certain activities, it is more beneficial to get a good protein source that is digestible into your system. Your body can only handle a certain amount of protein at one time so you can’t eat all your protein for the day at once. Excess at any one time gets stores just like excess of carbs or fat.
Eat Breakfast with Protein
You have probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of day. Well that is still true. Your body has been fasting for the last 8 hours while you are sleeping. Your body needs energy from carbs and protein for your muscle tissue within 30 minutes of being awake. For protein shakes, whey makes a great choice as it absorbs the fastest and after 8 hours of no protein the faster your body can get protein the faster your metabolism and muscle tissue can start moving.
Pre Workout Protein Shake
Thirty minutes to an hour before your workout it is important to get protein into your bloodstream. Liquid protein makes the best sources as it is easier to digest before strenuous activity. Heavy protein typically also have fat which takes a long time to digest and can make you sick if you work out to hard after eating a meal with fat. Whey protein makes the best choice after your workout as it is fast acting and your muscles will be primed and ready to go by the time your workout.
Post Workout Window of Opportunity
You have a specific window of opportunity to start the rebuilding process after your training sessions or sports performance. The optimal time frame is to get carbohydrates for energy and protein to start the anabolic process within 30-45 minutes after physical activity. If you wait longer than 90 minutes to get protein into your system your body will decrease in performance beyond where you started before your workout. A meal replacement shake that has a mixture of carbs and the different protein sources like whey, egg, and casein is the optimal post workout shake. The different proteins will keep protein being utilized and released over a period of time to keep your muscles recovering and rebuilding.
Protein Powders between Meals
Your body needs 5 small meals of protein and carbs, so protein shakes between meals is a great way to get low fat controlled calories of high quality protein. Getting protein in between your normal 3 square meals a day is the only way to keep protein synthesis going. Protein synthesis is the process to which your body rebuilds, repairs, and develops lean muscle tissue. Protein sources that have dairy proteins support a great feeling of fullness.
Protein Before Bed
Eating before you go to bed is not a problem. Most people add the term eating a “Big” meal before going to bed and that is the problem. Eating a big meal is always a problem no matter the time. You need protein every 2-3 hours during the day and if it has been a long time after dinner and you are still awake a protein shake makes a great choice. If you are starving when you go to bed and low blood sugar your body can burn away muscle tissue all night long and slow down your metabolism. Casein makes a great choice as a protein source as it is broken down longer overtime and can keep a greater consistent protein release while you sleep. Casein is considered to be one of the most anti-catabolic (breaking down muscle tissue) with its high quantity of important amino acids like glutamine.
Protein Source Timing Chart
|Protein Source||Morning||Between Meals||Pre Workout||Post Workout||Bedtime|
Protein by Ingredient
Whey Protein and Egg Mixtures
Protein by Goal
Meal Replacement Shakes
Low Carb Protein