Protein is a macronutrient that plays a vital role in building our muscle mass. As a macronutrient, we need protein simply because it is a macronutrient – and our systems need macronutrients to get energy and to sustain life overall.
While we all know the importance of protein for our health, there is no single answer yet to the question of when should we take protein – that is, if time is even important, to begin with. From whey protein to amino acids, protein shakes come in all shapes and sizes depending on your health goals.
In this article, we are going to discuss the benefits of taking this supplement, how to take protein to build muscle and stay healthy, and when the best time to take protein is so you can reap all the benefits.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
5 Main Benefits Of Protein
Before we jump into answering the question “when is the best time to take protein?” it’s important to talk about the overall benefits of a protein-rich diet. You can get protein from foods, but you can also take other supplements like whey protein, which can come in the form of a protein shake. Either way, adding this macronutrient to your diet will help build muscle.
As a macronutrient, protein is beneficial to us because we need it, to begin with. If our body lacks at least one macronutrient – be it carbohydrate, protein, and fats – it will not work on its optimal level.
But aside from being a macronutrient, here are the 5 main benefits of having protein in your system:
1) Protein increases your muscle mass and strength
Protein is useful in increasing your muscle mass and strength simply because it is the building block of your muscles. Thus, if you need to build and sustain your muscles, getting more protein by using supplements for diet – should be your priority.
Of course, if you want to grow big, aside from getting the protein you need, you should perform strength training exercises such as body weight exercises and weight lifting.
2) Protein aids in post-workout recovery and injuries
Aside from gaining muscle mass and strength, protein is also used for post-workout recovery. During recovery, you can use protein to speed up your muscle’s healing process, so you go for another set or prepare for tomorrow’s workout sets. Whey protein is a common supplement to help aid in post-workout recovery.
Aside from post-workout recovery, protein is also helpful in healing injuries. This is because protein aids in forming our tissues’ and organs’ main building blocks. Many studies also show that eating protein does help in speedy recovery after an injury.
3) Protein can help you lose weight and burn fat
Protein can help you lose weight and burn fat by increasing your satiety of feelings of fullness. Studies show that among our three macronutrients, protein is the most filling of them all. One of the reasons why protein increases our satiety is because it reduces our ghrelin or “hunger hormone.”
Protein can also help you burn fat by helping you build and maintain muscles. Our muscles act as your fat-burning machine. This explains why fit people tend to gain weight and fat slower compared to those with an average body.
To get this benefit, you can start by as simple as reducing your carbohydrate and fat intake while increasing your protein. For example, you may consider reducing your rice and add more meat to your plate or add a whey protein shake alongside dinner.
4) Protein promotes bone health
There is a claim that protein, especially animal protein, is bad for your bones because protein increases the acid level in our body, which causes the calcium to neutralize the acid instead of going to our bones. However, multiple and long-term studies don’t support the claim.
Many studies show that protein is beneficial for our bones – that includes animal protein. Not only that, but people who eat more protein are shown to better maintain their bone mass even as they age.
5) Protein can lower your blood pressure
This is something that you may not think about, but interestingly, protein can also lower your blood pressure. For instance, according to a review of 40 controlled trials, increased protein intake had led to lower levels of systolic blood pressure by 1.76mmHg on average and diastolic blood pressure by 1.15mmHg on average.
Also, one study found out that high protein intake can lead to reduced LDL or “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides. In short, protein is not only good for the muscles but the heart as well. Whether it’s a whey protein, vegan protein, or a protein shake that focuses on amino acids, there are many options to choose from.
Best Time To Take Protein
Now, let’s go to the tricky part – when should you take protein for the best results? Also, is there even a “best time” for taking protein to get the best results, or we can just take protein any time of the day?
To answer this question, let’s first get two things out of the way: taking protein for a workout and taking protein for post-workout recovery.
Protein Before Working Out
If you want to increase the effectiveness of your workout, you should get your protein, well, before you start your sets. In general, supplement 45 minutes before your workout so you can work harder during your sets and support your body.
Muscle growth is important, but supporting building muscle is just as important. When you purchase a supplement, it will tell you the grams of protein it has, as well as other nutritional facts. Find one that is both tasty but easy to digest, and it will help you get on your way to muscle building.
Protein For After-Workout Recovery
For post-workout recovery purposes, of course, should you take your protein after your workout. This will help in fueling and speeding up your muscles’ recovery. Whey protein is typically consumed after a workout, whether that be in a protein shake, or just as straight protein powder. Some gym-goers also love using casein protein, or protein with branched-chain amino acids. These powders help muscle growth as well as weight loss, depending on the user’s goals.
Is It Better To Have Protein In The Morning Or At Night?
When it comes to consuming protein post or pre-workout, the evidence stands for both. You can consume protein before your workout for maximum performance and after your workout for post-workout recovery. But how about if you are taking protein outside your workout routine, when should you take it for best results (again, if there’s even such a thing)?
So far, no research or evidence taking protein at a particular time of the day will boost or yield you better or best results. The most important thing is your lifestyle, such as regular workout and eating a healthy diet. Whether you prefer to eat something like whey protein before bed or throughout the day, it all comes down to your workout goals.
Consuming whey protein before bed might sound backward, but your body can digest it and put it to work while you sleep. If you prefer to eat it primarily throughout the day, and through different food sources, that works as well.
As for protein itself, you will get its benefits as long as you sufficiently consume it in your diet. It’s always best to consume all three macronutrients at every meal, carbohydrates, proteins, and carbs. If you consume all three, it increases your rate of metabolism.
How Should You Take Protein?
There are two ways to take protein – through diet and through supplements.
Protein is usually abundant in various diets, so most of us are getting good amounts of protein from our diet alone. However, if you want to maximize your protein intake, consider increasing your protein intake by lowering your carbohydrate and fat intake.
As mentioned earlier, you can do this by simply reducing your carb level (such as rice) and increasing your protein level (such as meat) on your plate. But don’t just increase your protein while keeping your carbs and fats high; it will not yield you better results because your carbs and fat intake are still high.
You can also take protein as a dietary supplement, often in powdered form. While protein is abundant in our diet, some people – especially those who want to build their muscles or increase their physical performance – take protein supplements to get focused amounts of protein. The amount of grams of protein per person changes depending on a few facets like your body size, your gender, etc. This type of health information is typically found on most supplement packages. Some protein brands worth taking a look at include High Impact Plant Protein, High Impact Whey Protein, Naked Whey, and Noway Protein.
Should You Take Protein With Anything Else?
Of course, you should take protein with anything else – namely, carbohydrates and fats. If you decrease your carbs and fat intake too much, it will leave your body sluggish and will not function as properly as it should.
Carbs are important because they mainly provide our body with the energy we need. On the other hand, fats support cell growth and increase our body’s energy, too. As for taking protein before a workout, taking it along with some carbs like oats and brown rice will help give you the energy you’ll need for your sets. While there is no set best time to take it, whey protein is a great option to take pre-workout, as it fuels your muscle growth.
Should You Add Protein to Your Diet?
Whether you decide to get your protein from food or from supplementation like whey protein, there are many options to choose from. As you’ve read, there are many benefits to increasing this macronutrient in your day-to-day diets, and while there is not a specific best time to take protein, there are benefits to the different supplementation times.