When To Drink Protein Shakes


What do we  mean by protein shakes? Simply, a powdered formula that when mixed or blended with other ingredients such as water, juice, vegetables or milk provides a drink that is high in protein. There are also ready to drink protein shakes available. Protein shakes come in various forms but the most common ingredients are Whey Protein, Soy, Egg and Casein.

When To Use Protein Shakes?

Protein shakes are often used by people before a workout, although these tend to be of a form with a carbohydrate base. This is an energy booster and helps to increase endurance and enhances an athlete’s performance. Protein shakes are also regularly used by people after exercise and training as it helps to put back the protein that is lost during this time (converted to energy). When people workout they are known to feel tired, hungry and weak and increasing protein intake can help restore this. Protein shakes are also known to help build lean body muscle and will help heal tears that bodybuilders acquire when their muscles contract whilst lifting weights. People who are wanting to lose weight often drink protein shakes when on a controlled diet or as a meal replacement.

Why Use Protein Shakes?

People tend to drink protein shakes over eating solid proteins as it is more readily available for the body, this is known as ‘bioavailable’. Taking protein as a drink is easy for the body to digest and is absorbed as quickly as 30 minutes. This compared to eating a solid protein which takes at least 90 minutes – meaning it takes longer to start working. If injured, bodybuilders and athletes need protein to be absorbed in their body quicker to start the healing process and rebuild and repair their muscle tissues.

It is also more convenient to use protein shakes as they are more accessible to use immediately after a workout, it is simpler to carry around a ready mixed drink or a powdered sachet than it is to carry solid foods around and trying to eat on the go.

The Best Times To Drink Protein Shakes

There are various times of the day when it can be of benefit to drink a protein shake:-

Before A Workout

Drinking a protein shake before you start an exercise or training session helps to protect your muscles and provides you with the extra energy reserves you need to complete the workout. It also helps to ensure that the energy you produce is taken from the fat in your body and not your muscles (also see the ketogenic diet). Drinking a protein shake that is high in carbohydrates is often the best type of drink to consume to guarantee this.

After A Workout

Immediately drinking a protein shake after exercise or strength training helps your body re-energize and restores the much needed protein your body needs. To get the best effect from a protein shake you should drink it within the first 2 hours after taking part in a resistant based training session or weight lifting as it helps to repair muscles.

As a Meal Replacement

Replacing a meal with a protein shake can be good for weight loss as it still provides all the nutrients you require whilst still keeping your energy levels up. You should only really replace 1 meal a day with a protein shake and it is generally advised that it is breakfast or dinner as the body requires the most calories during the afternoon and it also burns them quicker at this time. Using protein shakes regularly can help with long term weight loss.

Before Bed

The body’s protein supply depletes during sleep so drinking a protein shake just before bed is not only easy to digest but helps to naturally restore and rebuild the body’s requirements. Remember, sleep is normally the longest time your body has to go between refueling from food. So adding to this reserve before bed can also result in making you feel more refreshed and energetic when you wake up. Due to their slow releasing qualities egg and casein protein are good to drink at this time.

The Types Of Protein Shakes Available

There are many different ingredients that can make up a protein shake, depending on your requirements. A variety of amino acids are also found in protein shakes, including glutamine and creatine which are effective after workouts. Glutamine helps to boost the immune system and creatine is good for strength and increasing muscles. They tend to include one of these four main ingredients:


When egg is used as a protein shake it doesn’t have the fat, carbohydrate or cholesterol that eggs usually contain and is easy to digest. The amino acid contained in egg protein is more complete than whey but not as high. This is one of the most expensive forms of protein and not used as much a source of protein shakes as the other forms.


Whey Protein is a by product of milk which is made during the process of cheese making, it has all the essential amino acids and is the highest biological value of any protein. It also digests and absorbs quicker than any other protein. (See also what is whey protein isolate)


Casein contains 80% of the protein that is found in milk with whey making up the other 20%. Casein is a slower processing protein so is better for long term muscle protection. People tend to drink a mixture of casein and whey protein shakes so they get the benefits of both.


Soy protein is made from soybeans, it is not a complete protein as it does not include all the essential amino acids. People tend to use soy protein shakes if they are allergic to whey or casein or if they prefer not to use a product derived from animals. Whey protein and casein absorbs and digests in the body quicker than soy protein.

Choosing The Best Protein Shake For You

A whey protein shake is the best to drink if you are wanting to lose weight as it is quickly absorbed and helps your body to burn fat reserves instead of carbs. Casein is good as a meal replacement, helping with weight gain and building up muscles as it is slower-acting. Too much soy has been linked to numerous potential health issues, particularly for men, so it’s probably best avoided if you can.