Yes, you’ve heard all about protein and even know there are different types. But, if you decide to go with whey protein, when should you take whey protein and why? The answer is that whey protein is pretty much good for you just about any time you want to take it. However, if you want to be strategic in aligning with your goals, sometimes it might benefit you more than others. We break it all down for you here.
What is Whey Protein?
There are a lot of different types of protein, and it can all get a bit confusing. While there are many kinds of protein and many ways of procuring it (cold-filtered, micro-processing, etc.), here are a few of the main categories:
Whey— whey protein is made from the liquid when dairy products like cheese are broken down. It’s the watery part that separates from the rest of the dairy. Whey protein is typically very low in fat and low carb, resulting in a high-protein supplement that can be used to build muscle and lose body fat. It is absorbed by the body quickly and is usually flavored.
Casein— this protein also comes from milk and is the part that is left after the watery liquid (the whey) has been separated from the dairy product. It is a longer-acting protein and tends to stay in the system, making it an excellent night-time protein supplement.
Veggie sources like hemp, pea, soy, and rice— these are also good sources of protein and are especially helpful if you are lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy.
Collagen— this is yet another type of protein that is wonderful for tissue repair and structure. Available in liquid, powder, and pill forms, collagen can help your skin, bones, hair, and muscles stay strong, resilient, and supple.
Blends— these simply blend two or more types of protein to take advantage of the benefits of each kind of protein. For example, you might mix whey (for the lower carb, fat, and calorie count) with casein (so your body has a lasting protein source through the night).
What are the benefits of using whey protein? There are so many reasons to take whey protein. Some benefits overlap with other types of proteins, and some are unique to whey protein (like the first two benefits).
- Low fat—because whey is the liquid that has separated from the fats, it is a very low-fat and low-calorie form of protein.
- Low carb—also low carb, the watery liquid once in powder form, is extremely low carb and a great source of protein for dieters.
- High-quality protein supplements are available from reputable sources.
- Satiating and satisfying—especially when mixed with ice, milks, almond milk, fruits, yogurt, Greek yogurt, or cottage cheese.
- It may help reduce inflammation in the body.
- It may help to lower blood pressure.
- It’s a great antioxidant.
- It may help support weight loss.
- It feeds your body the nutrients it needs so you can build muscle when combined with exercise, especially resistance training.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
The recommended dietary allowance is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. If you are athletic, you will likely need more. Many athletes will consume between 1 and 1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass, sometimes more.
When to Take Whey Protein? The 4 Best Times
As for when to take this amazing supplement, studies suggest the timing is based on your goals and is generally more important than the overall amount of protein you get. So, recommendations include:
1. Taking Whey Protein in the Morning
This is a great time to take whey protein because you’ve been asleep all night and your body has gone into fasting mode. Feeding your body with a serving of protein can help you feel full and satiated, helping you make better food choices throughout the day because your blood sugar is more stable. This is a great strategy if you’re trying to lose body fat, keep blood sugar in check, or adhere to a strict diet plan.
2. Taking Whey Protein in the Evening, Before Bed
This is also a great time to take whey, especially in combination with casein protein. The reasoning behind this is the whey will be absorbed quickly by your body while the casein protein will take longer to digest and thus keep your muscle tissue fed for several hours while you sleep. This is a great strategy if your aim is to feed the machine while you sleep, so you can build muscle and repair the trauma to your body from tough workouts.
3. Taking Whey Protein Before Your Workout
This supplement, used as part of a pre-workout drink or snack, can help increase your ability to use protein effectively. Not only will you stave off hunger while providing your body with a few calories, but studies also show that using protein before and immediately after your workout can help you build muscle tissue more readily.
4. Taking Whey Protein After Your Workout
This is a fantastic time to take whey protein, too! You’ve just beat up your body at the gym, and your muscles (if you did resistance training) have small microtears that will need the amino acid building blocks in protein to repair themselves. Give your muscles the food they need to rebuild and do it within the first 15 minutes to one hour after your workout for the best results. This is also a great strategy for boosting your anabolic (muscle-building) hormonal response.
No matter when you take whey protein, it’s almost always a good idea! Your body needs protein to heal and repair itself. Especially if you’re going through tough workouts at the gym, you will need the protein to rebuild your muscle tissue. Try spacing out your servings throughout the day for maximum impact. And remember, protein powder is a supplement, not a food. So, always be sure to include plenty of fresh, healthy natural whole foods in your diet as well.