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When is the Best Time to Drink Protein Shakes for Maximum Protein Absorption Rate

Updated on March 26, 2015
When is the Best time to drink protein shakes
When is the Best time to drink protein shakes

The Best Time to Drink Protein

Simply drinking protein shakes is not enough to build muscles and build them quickly. More importantly is knowing when to drink protein shakes and what type of protein to take for maximum absorption and maximum results.

How many of us have asked ourselves, “when is the best time to drink protein shakes?”, and how can we guaranty the maximum protein absorption rate to build muscle? Most people don’t realize that muscle is not built in the gym alone by lifting weights. Actually, only a small percentage of your time is devoted to working out at the gym. Usually about 45 minutes to an hour on average. So what do you do with the other 23 hours left in the day? Here’s a news flash. What you do post workout and up until your next workout for your muscles is just as crucial to building muscle mass as the workout itself. Though there are many factors to consider during this post workout period to get those muscles growing, we will only concentrate on one for this article. That one factor is how do we get the maximum protein absorption rate for maximum muscle growth? Before we answer that question, let me explain the condition your muscles are in post workout.

So you’ve just finished a grueling 45 minutes of pounding heavy weights and getting a massive pump that even Arnold would be proud of. So what now? Is it enough to just go home, make a high protein meal with a few cups of rise and broccoli? Well, that would be a good idea, but I have an even better one for you. You see, your muscles consist of mostly water, protein, and glycogen. When you put your muscles under tremendous stress, you are depleting them of protein which is made up of amino acids, and stored sugar called glycogen. This depletion puts you in a catabolic state and cortisol levels are spiking, which cause muscle tissue to break down. This is not a good state to be in, but as you will see shortly, we will use this to our advantage.

Table of Contents

  • Best Time to Drink Protein
  • Maximum Protein Absorption Rate Method
  • Continued Protein Absorption
  • Digestion and Enzymes to Maximize Absorption
  • Protein Quality and Brands
  • Carbs and Protein Absorption

Obviously, now is the time to take action and get your muscles back into an anabolic state. Now is your window of opportunity. Your muscles, at this very moment, are like sponges waiting to be fed. Now comes the good part. Wouldn’t it be great if we could somehow force as much protein or amino acids as possible straight into the muscle tissue? Heck yeah! Well here is how. By consuming a simple carbohydrate drink immediately after your workout, you will activate an insulin spike from the pancreas, which will immediately shuttle nutrients into the muscle cells. Did you have your light bulb moment yet? Add protein to the mix and you have created the perfect storm.

Better protein absorption rate equals bigger muscles faster
Better protein absorption rate equals bigger muscles faster

How to get the Maximum Protein Absorption Rate immediately after your Workout

So how do you guarantee this immediate protein uptake into your muscle tissue for maximum protein absorption? When is the best time to drink protein shakes? Here is the answer you’ve been waiting for. First, start by drinking a whey protein shake before your workout. We recommend whey protein, as whey protein absorption into your body is much faster than other protein. By drinking a whey protein powder shake before your workout, you are making sure you already have plenty of protein in your system to be shuttled to your muscle tissue with your simple carbs drink during your insulin spike.

Secondly, immediately after your workout would also the best time to drink protein shakes with a carb drink. This guaranties plenty of protein in your system for maximum protein absorption. I usually have some sort of power or energy drink, or even a juice, usually apple juice.

When is the best time to drink Protein Shakes?

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Continue your Recovery with more Maximum Protein Absorption

In addition to this whey protein absorption trick for maximum protein absorption, we should also include how important it is to supply your muscles with vital muscle building protein throughout the remainder of the day and night for maximum muscle growth.

In order to get a continuous steady supply of protein to your muscles during recovery, it is important that your diet is high in protein, and that you eat every 2 to 3 hours. Since we don’t always have the time or resources to eat every few hours, a great alternative would be a casein protein powder shake. Compared to the whey protein absorption rate, the casein protein absorption rate is much slower. Casein protein is a slow digesting protein which will slowly release protein into your blood stream over a 3 to 4 hour time span. This makes for an excellent type of protein to be taken before bed time. If you are unable to eat every 2 to 3 hours during the day, the best time to drink protein shakes would be between each meal or even with each meal to create the maximum protein absorption possible throughout the day. If you don’t have any casein protein powder handy, another source of casein protein would be cottage cheese. A little trick I use to get passed eating all that cottage cheese is to mix it in a blender with some milk and maybe add a little vanilla extract for taste and gulp it down.

Best time to drink protein shakes for maximum protein absorption rate
Best time to drink protein shakes for maximum protein absorption rate

When to drink Protein Shakes

When and how much protein you consume during the day is just as important as the workout itself. For the maximum protein absorption rate, whey protein absorption is best immediately before and after your workout, and the slower casein protein absorption is best throughout the day, between meals and mostly before bed. Since whey protein absorption is so quick, I would recommend only taking whey protein before and after your workout. When more than 30-40 grams of whey protein are ingested at one time, what is not assimilated for muscle tissue repair is oxidized for energy and stored as fat. This is not so much a concern before and after your workout, since your muscles will be starving for nutrients and protein anyway. I have not seen any data or studies suggesting conclusive evidence on how much protein your body can absorb in one sitting, and I believe this may vary from person to person anyway depending on body mass and workout intensity. So to play it safe and get the maximum protein absorption I would stick to the 30-40 grams of protein per meal. If you are going for 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight and you weigh 180 pounds and are eating 8 times per day, you could take in approximately 30 grams per meal.

Maximum Protein Absorption with better Digestion

When to drink protein shakes for immediate absorption and when to drink protein shakes for slow absorption is very important, but another way to maximize protein absorption is by supplementing with proteolytic enzymes, also known as proteases. These enzymes are responsible for the breakdown and absorption of protein. Also look on protein powder labels if this enzyme has already been added. If not, you can buy proteolytic enzyme supplements at your local GNC, health food store, or online. Bromelain is a naturally occurring enzyme in pineapples and are available as supplements.

Hydrochloric acid (HCL) is responsible for digesting food, and especially protein. HCL breaks down protein to prepare it for absorption. You can boost your hydrochloric acid naturally by eating foods such as spinach, garlic, lemons, and black olives, ginger, celery, and apple cider vinegar. HCL supplementation is also available to help maximize protein absorption when taken after a meal.

When is the best time to drink protein shakes
When is the best time to drink protein shakes

Recommended Protein Brands

I have taken various brands of whey protein powder over the years and can say that not all products are created equal. Not only is it important to know the best time to drink protein for maximum protein absorption, but to also get a good quality protein to help you build big solid muscles.

I have recently switched from a VitaCost brand to TwinLab and also MyoFusion by Gaspari Nutrition. I am noticing better results from the MyoFusion whey protein but also feel that the TwinLab is a good quality whey protein powder. The Gaspari MyoFusion Probiotic Series protein powder I buy in a 5 lb. container. The MyoFusion vanilla flavor tastes great and the Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Natural 100% Whey Vanilla flavor is also very tasty and has no artificial flavors and no artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.

The MyoFusion whey protein has a six stage protein blend; features whey protein concentrate, brown rice protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, milk protein isolate, egg albumin, and fast acting whey protein hydrolysate; a patented GanadenBC30 Probiotic to support immune and digestive health; over 9 grams of essential amino acids to support recovery; and gluten and aspartame free and zero artificial colors.

If you are looking for a place to buy protein powder, I would recommend your local GNC, or for convenience and maybe even better deals, there are many places online you can order. The most trusted site I personally use for most of my online shopping still remains to be Amazon. Both Twinlab products and Gaspari’s MyoFusion why protein can also be found there.

If you have a protein powder brand you swear by, please feel free to share it with us in the comments section at the bottom of this article.

Importance of Carbohydrates for Maximum Protein Absorption

We spoke about the best time to drink protein shakes and what type of protein to drink at certain times and how much for maximum protein absorption. But what if you are doing absolutely everything right, you are on top of your protein intake and your workouts are grueling, but you just can’t seem to put on any muscle mass to save your life. Well, you just might be burning your protein. We know as an insurance policy it is better to get a little too much protein to build muscle than not enough. But what you may have overlooked is that without a sufficient intake of carbohydrates and healthy fats you will not only be wasting much of your hard earned money on protein, but also losing maximum protein absorption needed for your muscles to grow. Without sufficient carbs your body will burn the protein for energy, taking away from your muscles and leaving you flat. This will not only stop your muscles from growing, but even make you smaller. So how many carbs do you need? Again as with protein, this number will vary from person to person. So I would suggest that in addition to the amount you are consuming now, add about 50 grams of quality carbs to your diet. Quality carbs would include sweet potatoes, oatmeal, brown rice, and eat them mostly during the day. Your carb intake may vary from day to day depending on workout intensity. Your leg day for example, in most cases will need more carbs than other workout days. Watch how your body reacts to the added carbs and adjust up or down as needed.

Did you already know the difference between the Whey Protein absorption rate vs. the Casein Protein absorption rate?

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Thanks for reading “When is the Best Time to Drink Protein Shakes for Maximum Protein Absorption Rate”. Remember to always eat clean and healthy meals high in protein and to get enough healthy carbs and fats. I hope you enjoyed this tidbit if information and that it gets you closer to achieving your muscle building goals. Now that you know when to drink protein shakes for maximum protein absorption rate and the importance of carbs, be sure to share this with a friend at the gym. They might learn something new and you may get a great tip in return. Or share a tip with us here in the comment section. We are always happy to hear from our fellow readers.


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    • profile image


      18 months ago

      Sincere efforts and best of information compiled in most meticulous way possible.

      In short ,time saving ,muscle saving great article.

    • sellmyhousedenver profile image


      2 years ago from Denver, CO

      Liked this article a lot! Thanks.

    • aminebombom profile image


      4 years ago from Doha, Qatar

      Very informative hub, I always drink my whey protein with cold water after working out, but when I have to take it with my breakfast meal or before bedtime, I use milk

    • 4FoodSafety profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      4 years ago from Fontana, WI

      I have used ProCaps protein meal replacement. I enjoy the taste, the amount of protein is rather low but the other ingredients make up for that fact and it tastes great!

    • maalarue profile imageAUTHOR

      John Mark 

      4 years ago from Texas

      Hello Pam42. I took a look at their protein products and it appears to be a very healthy and quality product. Thanks for asking.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I find your article really useful. How about Isagenix products? Are there shakes a good source of protein?

    • Drew Lawrence profile image

      Drew Lawrence 

      4 years ago

      Great article. I went through this with all of my clients as a personal trainer

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I really like this article, Thank You!

    • Juliet Stewart profile image

      Juliet Stewart-Austin 

      4 years ago from San Antonio, TX.

      I HAD NO IDEA THAT TIME PLAYED A PART!!! Very useful information.

    • whey-proteins profile image

      Jutta Fisher 

      4 years ago from Germany

      Very Good article,paked with infos

    • maalarue profile imageAUTHOR

      John Mark 

      4 years ago from Texas

      Hello Chauncey St Clair. Since running is a cardio exercise and not a muscle builder, it is not necessary to take additional protein. The protein intake described in this article is for building muscle.

      Drinking enough water per day to clean the kidneys is important, but not directly related to the protein intake. So regardless of protein intake, you should be drinking close to a gallon of water daily.

    • Chauncey St Clair profile image

      Chauncey St Clair 

      4 years ago from New York City

      Does this apply to running as well? Should it be different? I know that cardio and muscle building are different, but just curious. Also, how many cups of water per cup of protein shake should I consume to clear the kidneys would you suggest?

    • NScarpediem profile image

      Carpe Diem 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      Nice article. I'll use this as my guide.

    • gymmotivation profile image


      4 years ago

      Good article.

    • maalarue profile imageAUTHOR

      John Mark 

      5 years ago from Texas

      Hello fanie. Being strong is not everything. But if it is something you desire, then don't wait and take action now. Go to the gym and workout hard, eat healthy and make sure to get your protein intake necessary to grow muscles. Believe me, eventually you will not only be stronger, but also healthier. Motivation is your first step, taking action is your second step, and finally dedication. Good luck.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I want 2 be strong

    • maalarue profile imageAUTHOR

      John Mark 

      5 years ago from Texas

      Thank you :). Knowing when to take your protein for maximum protein absorption can make a big difference.

    • blueeyedTina profile image


      6 years ago

      Voting up and useful!


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