Pre Vs. Post Workout Protein Shake – Which Is Right?



Whether it’s finding the perfect gym leggings, the right strength training routine or the best spin class, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to maintaining a regular exercise regime. Throw protein shakes into the mix and things can get even more confusing. Why do you need them? When should you take them?

In this post, we’ll explain why protein is an important part of a balanced diet and when you should be putting your protein shakes to the test.

Why is protein important?

Daily protein intake isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, as a minimum. So, somebody weighing 70kg would need 56 grams, while someone bigger – let’s say 100kg – would require at least 80 grams.

However, if you’re doing regular strength training and cardio, you may need double this amount. Why? In short, protein is made of amino acids which the body needs to function properly. They boost the immune system and help build muscle.

Should you have protein shakes?

You can easily consume protein through a balanced diet, with things like eggs, milk and chicken. However, more and more people are adding a protein shake as a supplement to their daily balanced diet when hitting the gym. Rather than a food replacement, this provides an additional boost to your protein intake.

If you’re unsure what you’re doing when it comes to shakes, don’t worry - you’re not the only one. A recent study by the University of Montreal found that a whopping 3 in 4 professional athletes don’t improve their performance with the help of protein shakes, simply because they don’t know how to take them properly.

So, when exactly should you be chugging your shake?

Before your workout

The advocates for pre-workout shakes say that consuming the extra protein before exercising can help increase your strength, enhance muscle repair and growth, and lead to greater changes in your body composition.

If you do prefer a pre-workout shake, then you should have it in the 30-minute window before working out. This allows the amino acids from the protein to be ingested properly.

After your workout

There are also benefits to a post-workout protein shake, as they can help balance your protein levels by reducing protein breakdown. Feeding your body protein after a strenuous workout can be a great way to help the muscles recover leading to faster muscle growth. Again, it’s best to have your shake within 30 minutes of working out.

The verdict on protein shakes

Although there are benefits to pre and post workout shakes, it can be mostly down to when is most convenient for you. Just remember it should part of a balanced diet and never as a replacement and you should always follow the recommend dosage on the packaging.

Stay in touch

Are you a pre-workout advocate, or do you prefer to refuel after exercising? We’re always keen to hear people’s tried and tested routines. Let us know what you swear by in the comments below or over on Instagram.

Words by

Rob Truslove