Protein shake before or after your workout. When would be better to drink it?

Is it better to drink protein shakes before training or after training? Or will it actually be good to take the Protein both before and after the weight training routine? These questions will be answered based on two studies that I will analyze briefly and easy to understand so that you can "draw" your own conclusions about this topic.

Keep in mind that nutrition is a pillar of extreme importance in terms of overall health and of course when it comes to being able to perform in optimal conditions a workout routine and when we want our body to recover optimally after it is finished, both in the hours after (in the same day) as in the following days.

Supplements considered as Proteins, protein shakes, protein powders or gym supplements, can help both enhance training as well as recovery of the body after having undergone this high degree of stress (high intensity training).

Pre- versus post-exercise protein intake has similar effects on muscular adaptations

Well, this subtitle is the title of the first study to which I will refer. The purpose of this study was to test the theory of the anabolic window based on the measurements obtained in terms of muscle strength, hypertrophy and changes in body composition in response to an equal dose of protein (protein shake) consumed either immediately before or immediately after resistance training applied to trained men.

For this study, 21 men with an average decimal age of 22.9 years, height of 175.5 centimeters and average body mass of 82.9 kg, who had experience of one or more years in resistance training with weights, were selected. These 21 subjects were randomly assigned to one of two groups:

First group (PRE): a group of 9 subjects given a drink with 25 grams of protein and 1 grams of carbohydrate, just before starting the strength training routine with weights.

Second group (POST): a group of 12 subjects who consumed the same type of supplement with the same amount of nutrients mentioned above, just after completing the strength training routine with weights.

Model or method of study: The training to which both groups were subjected were 3 non-consecutive weekly sessions for a total period of 10 weeks, where a fullbody routine of 9 exercises each was stipulated for each session, where complex exercises such as bench press and free squats were involved, both exercises were measured to compare the results of the variables mentioned (hypertrophy, strength, body composition) ...

... but the training sessions also involved other exercises such as curl of biceps, Lat pull exercise, quadriceps extension, among others, performing 3 sets per exercise with weights that allowed them to perform between 8 and 12 repetitions (at 75% of the MR of each subject), and with rest time between sets not exceeding the 90 seconds.

The first group (PRE) was provided with a meal 3 hours prior to training which consisted of both carbohydrates and proteins and was given an intake of the Dymatize Iso 100 Isolate supplement just before starting the training routine mentioned above, every day.

The second group (POST) was given the same measure of Dymatize ISO 100 Isolate shake and after three hours of consuming this milkshake they were instructed to consume a meal similar to the one the PRE group consumed.

Nutritional intervention: to help ensure maximum anabolic response, each subject was given a nutritional plan (protein equivalent to 1.8 g / kg of body mass, fat equivalent to 25-30% of total energy intake and the rest of Calories in carbohydrates) designed to create an energy surplus of 500 kcal / day.

Measures to evaluate the influence of the protein shake and meals ingestion over the variables of hypertrophy, strength and body composition: Measures were taken before beginning the 10 weeks of training, in the middle of the study and at the end.

For each measurement, participants were instructed not to practice maximum intensity exercise routines 48 hours before each measurement.

Measurements were taken to determine the thickness of each muscle group, body composition and maximum strength which was measured according to the MR obtained in the most complex exercises (free squat and bench press).

Results of the study: The measures taken show that both groups had a significant increase in maximum strength, being 3.7% for the PRE group and 4.9% for the POST group in relation to the free squat exercise, and 2.4% for the PRE group and 3.3% for the POST group in the bench press exercise.

Regarding this factor, the authors of this study made a comparison with similar studies where it was concluded that groups that consumed significantly smaller amounts of protein, in this case speaking of 0.3 grams of protein per kg of body mass, obtained similar increments In terms of MR, although this comparison is based on a study carried out on untrained seniors.

Other comparisons were made regarding the level of hypertrophy of muscle groups, and some studies showed that subjects taking protein shake just after training session showed significant increases in muscle thickness compared to those who waited 2 hours or More to ingest this protein shake or post-training meal (this being the only intake of it).

However, other studies show that there were no significant differences between the increase in strength and hypertrophy and maximal strength among groups that consumed protein shakes just after training with those who consumed it before and / or who waited 2 hours or more to consume it in the post-training period.

As for body composition (muscle mass and body fat percentage, mainly), no significant differences were observed between the two groups, considering that the training sessions and Caloric intake were similar in both groups.

PERSONAL CONCLUSIONS: While it is true that the faster a protein shake or a good meal is consumed just after finishing training session, the faster muscle recovery will occur (for obvious reasons), this does not mean that the theory of the anabolic window is true since if it were so, this would indicate that those who do not consume nutrients in the next post training 30 minutes, time is supposed to last this alleged window, would not benefit from them (nutrients).

The factor to keep in mind is actually the time. For obvious reasons as I mentioned, muscle recovery and therefore anabolic processes in the body will be carried out faster in those who consume the nutrients (protein shakes, meals) as soon as possible after training (almost immediately) ...

... in this case of course speaking more specifically based on a protein shake which in itself provides a good amount of macro nutrients for easy and rapid absorption.

People can benefit greatly from a protein shake, even more so if they can consume it both in the pre and post training periods. However, this would be quite expensive, so those who can only opt for an ingestion of the protein shake, it would be best to consume it just after training as long as it contains carbohydrates, and of course always mixing it only in water to speed up the absorption of the nutrients it provides.

The rest of the nutritional part can be supplied with a good quantity, variety and quality of food.

Drinking protein shakes with or without carbohydrates?

I spoke about this in another article which I will leave in this link (second study and other references mentioned in this article) in case you want to read it in more detail. But if you get lazy here I'll summarize:

The results of the studies mentioned in the article of the link give you to choose practically two options:

1. Take two scoops, taking into account that a scoop of a standard protein supplement usually contains between 20 and 25 grams of protein. So in total it would be a post-workout shake of between 40 and 50 grams of protein, without carbohydrates.

2. Take a shake from a supplement that per scoop provides between 20 and 25 grams of protein and between 15 and 20 grams of carbohydrates. This would be the most economical option and somehow the most intelligent and equal or in fact more efficient than option number 1 (I'll explain below why).

The first option is the most expensive if we consider that proteins are a highly overrated macronutrient and carbohydrates an underrated macronutrient, since it is often believed that carbohydrates only help to increase fat volume and increase the risk of diabetes.

On the other hand, it is generally believed that proteins only bring health benefits and that if consumed in high amounts the only thing that will be achieved will be to increase muscle mass and no body fat at all, which is uncertain if we consider that the proteins also contribute Calories, and an excess of Caloríes the body could also transform it into fat.

The other thing to keep in mind is that carbohydrates consumed and assimilated as such (through food and / or shakes) help to recover intramuscular and hepatic glycogen more easily and quickly than it did or was spent during a high training session Intensity with or without weights, and that therefore when consuming a small protein shake without carbohydrates (1 scoop), much of these proteins will be converted to carbohydrates to help regain glycogen ...

... while if you consume a scoop that contributes proteins and carbohydrates, in a good percentage each nutrient will be assimilated for what in the first instance exists.


First study: Schoenfeld et al (2017). Pre- versus post-exercise protein intake has similar effects on muscular adaptations.

Second study: Borsheim, E., Cree, M.G., Tipton, K.D., Elliott, T.A., Aarsland, A., and Wolfe, R.R. (2004). Effect of carbohydrate intake on net muscle protein synthesis during recovery from resistance exercise. J.Appl.Physiol, 96 (2), 674-678.

Fujita, S., Dreyer, H.C., Drummond, M.J., Glynn, E.L., Volpi, E., Rasmussen, B.B., ... Volpi, E. (2009). Regulation of Protein Metabolism in Exercise and Recovery Essential amino acid and carbohydrate ingestion before resistance exercise does not enhance postexercise muscle protein synthesis. Journal of Applied Physiology, 1, 1730-1739.

Hansen, M., Bangsbo, J., Jensen, J., Krause-Jensen, M., Bibby, B. M., Sollie, O., ... Madsen, K. (2016). Protein intake during training sessions has no effect on performance and recovery during a strenuous training camp for elite cyclists. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 13, 9.

Hulmi, J.J., Laakso, M., Mero, A.A., Häkkinen, K., Ahtiainen, J.P., and Peltonen, H. (2015). The effects of whey protein with or without carbohydrates on resistance training adaptations. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12, 48.