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Should I Drink Protein Shakes Before or After Workout for Muscle Gain?

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For optimal muscle gain, drink a protein shake both before and after your workout. Pre-workout shakes fuel your muscles during exercise, while post-workout shakes aid recovery and muscle growth.

Gaining muscle requires a dedicated workout routine and a diet high in protein. Protein shakes are a convenient way to increase your protein intake around workouts. Here’s why you should drink them before and after exercising for best results.

Should I Drink Protein Shakes Before or After Workout for Muscle Gain. Man drinking a shaker

Drink Protein Before Your Workout

Consuming a protein shake 30-60 minutes before your workout provides these benefits:

  • Delivers branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) that go straight to your muscles, fueling them during exercise.
  • Jumpstarts muscle protein synthesis, the process of repairing and building new muscle tissue.
  • Reduces muscle protein breakdown during your workout.
  • May increase calorie burn in the 24 hours after your workout.

The BCAAs in pre-workout protein don’t need to be processed by your liver first. They rapidly enter your bloodstream and supply working muscles with amino acids to minimize breakdown.

Drink Protein After Your Workout

Resistance training damages your muscle fibers, which then need protein to recover and grow bigger. Consuming 20-30g of protein within 30 minutes after your workout provides these key benefits:

  • Elevates amino acid levels in your blood when your muscles can absorb them most efficiently.
  • Provides the nutrients to kick-start muscle protein synthesis and repair torn fibers.
  • Reduces muscle soreness and breakdown in the days following your workout.

The “anabolic window” after exercise is the prime opportunity to maximize muscle growth by getting protein into your system quickly. Whey protein is ideal due to its rapid digestion.

Spread Out Protein Throughout the Day

While timing protein around your workout is important, your total daily protein intake matters most for building muscle. Aim for:

  • 1.6-2.2g of protein per kg of body weight if you’re lifting to build muscle.
  • Consume 20-30g of high-quality protein every 3-4 hours, about 4 times per day.
  • Include both fast-digesting (whey) and slow-digesting (casein) protein sources.

Having a protein shake with each meal or as a snack helps you meet your daily protein needs. But whole food sources like eggs, meat, dairy, and legumes should be prioritized over supplements whenever possible.

In summary, drinking a protein shake before supplies amino acids to working muscles, while consuming one after replenishes what was depleted during your workout. But getting enough protein consistently every day is key for maximizing muscle growth.