When Is The Best Time To Drink A Protein Shake – Before Or After Exercise

Protein shakes on their own can be a bit of a controversial subject, and that’s before we get into when you should have them.

I’ve had people accuse me of using steroids because they saw me having a protein shake.

And while these wild accusations aren’t as common now as the people slowly start to catch up on what’s going on in health and fitness.

Experts are still divided into the benefits and risks of protein shakes.

I’ve read countless articles going back and forward on opinions.

And even now that they are more widely accepted and we’re seeing more and more variety in our supermarket aisles, people are still on the fence.

So let’s just start straight off that this article is pro protein shakes, within reason.

Sure there are brands out there that are selling low quality and high in sugar garbage.

For the most part, I think protein shakes and powders belong to health and fitness.

But as far as the timing of them goes this is where the waters get a little murky.

Should you have your protein shake before or after?

There is a lot of debate here but for me, I think the timing is not too important.

The main thing is that you’re getting protein in.

It doesn’t even need to be a shake, at the end of the day whole foods are always best.

Always eat as minimally processed as possible.

I use a protein powder because it’s convenient, it’s fast absorption which you want to have whether it’s before or after a workout.

Hell, sometimes I’ll have one before and after, depending on the duration of the session.

What’s more important than when you get a shake in, is how soon you eat after training.

And again this causes a lot of debate as well.

But to save you hours of reading, get a meal in as soon as possible.

Some experts say 30 minutes, some say 90.

But honestly, just get it in as soon as you can.

Aim for within an hour and you should be pretty good.

I try to get home right after a session and cook up a balanced meal.

Here’s a video I made a while back trying Brad Pitt’s diet for fight club.

Now this was a very high protein diet and was definitely pushing the limits of how much protein you should be eating.

You want a plate with protein, some healthy fats, plenty of vegetables, and a portion of carbs.

I always get a protein shake after training for a few reasons, it’s easy, it buys me a little time and it’s a habit.

Depending on the workout I’ll add a scoop of oats to my shake as well so that I can give my body some carbs right away.

Not only does your body want protein after training but it’s starving for carbs to replenish your energy stores as well.

So let’s just put this one to bed and say, get a protein shake after training purely because you should get something in.

And then head home and have a proper meal. 

And honestly, it doesn’t even have to be a shake.

Make a smoothie and add a scoop of protein to that. It’s cool and refreshing and will hit the spot after a hot and sweaty workout.

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Is It Bad To Drink Protein Shakes Without Working Out?

Again, it depends on the shake.

Some are high in carbs also, mass gainers.

But a typical low-carb protein shake is fine to drink anytime.

It’s no different from eating a can of tuna.

But, read the labels, if it’s a powder you use normally then again it’s no problem.

Unless it’s a high carb one and you’re watching your weight.

Mass gainers are high in calories so if you’re going to knock those back you will gain weight.

I’m no stranger to buying a protein shake whenever I go to the supermarket. It’s a convenient way to get some protein in.

And as I eat a mainly pescatarian diet it helps to hit my macros by getting a shake in mid-day.

I know the brands I stick with though, I always drink a low carb shake, and again, it’s more to help hit my numbers and they’re doing a good job in the flavor department these days.

Is It Bad To Drink Protein On An Empty Stomach?

When Is The Best Time To Drink A Protein Shake - man eating protein powder

Really it’s not too different from drinking a glass of milk on an empty stomach, it’s going to help curb hunger pains.

But I wouldn’t rely on them as your sole nutrition.

You need to eat some food as well.

But it’s trial and error, you may find it makes you feel a little sick having it on an empty stomach.

If that’s the case, don’t do it.

But most of the time you’ll be drinking it after a workout and I don’t know about you but I’m usually pretty hungry after a workout.

And a protein shake stops me from getting too ‘hangry’ on the way home.

But this is also when it could be wise to have a shake before working out.

It’s better to go into a workout with a protein shake in your belly than nothing at all.

And having your body already breaking down and using the protein while your training has its benefits.

Can Protein Shakes Make You Gain Weight?

Yes, they can. More often than not though, this is the kind of weight we want to gain, lean muscle mass.

But I made the mistake when I was younger of buying a mass gainer not really understanding what I was doing.

I would drink that all the time.

It wasn’t long before I started noticing the wrong kind of weight building around my belly.

I learned that the hard way, the weight I put on in a month or so took me a good while to burn off again.

But in terms of gaining muscle, then yes, they will help with that.

But only when paired up with the right training routine.

Lifting weights or another form of resistance training 3 – 4 times a week and eating in a calorie surplus will gain weight. 

If you’re not too sure about resistance bands and how they work.

Download a copy of my E-Book ‘Train Wherever The F*ck You Want.’ It’s Free!

Even without a protein shake, if you have your numbers right you’ll gain weight.

Eating in a calorie surplus with a high protein diet will build muscle.

Protein and diet are just one part of the puzzle though. 

Exercise size is another part.

But the most important is building the discipline you need to make sure it all last.

I put all 3 together in The Grizzly Method. 

To find out if The Grizzly Method will work for you, book your FREE consultation call now!