How Long After Protein Shake To Eat Meal And Why?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on December 17th, 2022

Are you looking to incorporate protein shakes into your diet but aren’t sure when is the best time to drink them? Or how long after a protein shake to eat a meal? If so, you’re in luck! This blog post will cover the best times to drink a protein shake for maximum benefit and help you get the most out of your workouts.

One to two hours is the exact answer.

woman in black tank top and blue denim jeans holding clear plastic bottle

Proteins are one of the most important nutrients that the body needs. These nutrients are required for muscle regeneration, muscular growth, and cellular reconstruction. Proteins are made up of amino acids, the fundamental building blocks of proteins.

In a nutshell, a protein is a big molecule composed of amino acids. According to the National Library of Medicine, proteins are essential for constructing, functioning, and controlling the body’s tissues and organs.

Protein shakes are beverages high in protein and many other nutrients and are popular among bodybuilders, MMA fighters, weightlifters, and athletes. Protein drinks aid in the increase of a person’s total body mass. It is also beneficial in reducing the quantity of fat in the body.

The protein shake’s major function is to enhance body weight, muscle mass, athletic performance, and a few other things. High protein beverages, branched-chain amino acids, pre-workout mixes, arginine, glutamine, creatine, essential fatty acids, and a few more are the most popular.

How Long Should I Wait After a Protein Shake to Eat a Meal?

Include protein in both meals if you plan to eat something after a protein shake. If your shake has 20 grams of protein and you consume a meal an hour later, you don’t need to include as much protein.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the recommended dietary requirement for an average adult is 0.37 grams per pound of body weight.

However, this does not take into account activity levels. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the suggested allowance may not be sufficient (ACSM).

If you do endurance activity or lift weights, they recommend ingesting 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

Furthermore, the ACSM recommends 0.5 to 0.7 grams of carbs per pound of body weight, with a carb-to-protein ratio of 2:1 or 3:1 for extended, high-intensity exercises.

If you have done a vigorous workout, you can have a meal at any time after having a protein shake.

According to research conducted by the American Council, you can also eat meals with a protein drink to replenish the energy lost after a workout.

Your body needs a fair quantity of protein, carbohydrates, and lipids, depending on your workout. Following an exercise, a person’s body may assimilate 50% more carbs and 50% more protein. As a result, including carbs and protein in your post-workout meal is an excellent option.

How much and how long can our bodies digest protein?

Protein digestion entails more than simply consuming protein-rich meals and allowing the body to dismantle them. The entire protein intake, breakdown, and use process can be surprisingly complicated.

However, to make protein absorption more understandable, we will simplify it.

The stomach contains an enzyme that is responsible for protein digestion. This enzyme is known as pepsin.

Pepsin aids in protein digestion by breaking it down and allowing the small intestine to continue breaking it down so that it may be absorbed and delivered by our bodies’ circulation. Once in circulation, many organs utilize the nutrients protein gives, allowing them to function properly.

Fortunately, protein in liquid form can be digested by our bodies. This enables people to consume meal replacement shakes or protein shakes, allowing them to provide their bodies with the appropriate quantity of protein regularly.

There is, however, a catch. Our bodies may absorb up to 10 grams of protein, such as whey protein, during the digestion process for liquid protein, which takes around one and a half hours.

For example, if you consume 40 grams of whey protein, it may take up to 4 hours or more for the body to absorb most of it. Because of the rate at which our systems digest whey protein, it would be difficult to absorb huge amounts of protein in a single intake.

As a result, you’d be removing more protein than you consume. Because of this, you must choose a protein shake that will allow you to absorb the protein you require within the 1.5-hour time window.

What about the absorption of whey?

Regarding whey, digestion is not the same as absorption; your body cannot utilize all the nutrients from the meals and liquids you ingest. Whey protein may be absorbed in a rate of 8 to 10 grams per hour, and it takes around an hour and a half for the whey to be absorbed within the digestive system.

If you consume a shake containing more than 15 grams of whey protein, your body may be unable to absorb and utilize all of the protein, and the remainder may be wasted.

Because different types of whey protein have varying compositions, they will not all digest at the same rate. Whey protein powder comes in three varieties: concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate. All three are fast-acting. However, hydrolysates are more processed and digested faster than concentrates or isolates.

Is it okay to have a protein shake in between meals?

According to the study, ingesting protein throughout the day at an appropriate interval or in between is a healthy way to maintain your body’s protein level.

A typical individual without exercise needs 0.36 grams of protein per pound to meet their daily protein intake. It rises to 0.76 grams per pound for persons who engage in high-intensity exercise.

So, consuming a protein shake or protein bar between meals is a good method to achieve your daily protein need. Most protein is pumped into the body as fuel before an exercise or to repair damaged tissue after a workout.

The amount of food you eat is proportionate to your workout: high intensity, low intensity, or cardio. Each category needs a different quantity. The amount of food you eat is also determined by your body weight. It is also critical to keep a digestion space between meals and workouts.

  • Consume a low-fat meal since it takes your body no time to digest.
  • Carbohydrates are vital and much more advantageous before an exercise since our bodies quickly convert carbohydrates into glycogen and use them as energy supplies. But don’t forget to include a modest quantity of fat and protein to keep the diet balanced.
  • Different sorts of meals are appropriate for different time zones. Some meals digest more quickly than others.

When is the best time to drink protein shakes?

Protein smoothies might be beneficial if you cannot reach your minimum protein intake through meals. Your lifestyle, habits, and personal wellness objectives determine the optimal time to take protein shakes.

According to recent research, the overall quantity of protein and carbs you take throughout the day influences performance more than when you ingest the macronutrient.

This implies that consuming a protein shake before or after a workout is unimportant.

Remember that one of the key roles of protein is to provide energy. To stay energized throughout the day, spread out your meals and snacks and incorporate protein in all of them.

If you have a very active day or workout regularly, you will require extra carbs to maintain your energy levels. Include an additional snack or a protein smoothie in your food plan.

Know your body type and goals

Understanding your body type and goals is important to determine the optimal time to drink protein shakes. If your primary goal is to build muscle, you may want to consume a protein shake shortly after a workout. This will help to ensure that your muscles have the necessary building blocks for growth.

On the other hand, if your primary goal is to lose weight, you may want to consume a protein shake several hours before and several hours after a workout. Doing so will help to ensure that your body has a steady supply of protein, which can help to keep you feeling full throughout the day and reduce cravings for unhealthy snacks. Regardless of your goals, you must speak with a nutritionist or doctor before making any major dietary changes.

Consider the timing of your meals

When timing your protein shakes, you should pay attention to the timing of your meals. Eating a balanced meal with a source of high-quality protein, such as lean meats, eggs, or plant sources, should be your priority. However, if you’re looking to build muscle or lose weight, a protein shake can be used to supplement your diet.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends consuming protein any time up to two hours after your workout to optimize muscle protein synthesis. They also suggest dividing your protein intake evenly between meals throughout the day is best. So if you have a protein shake in the morning, ensure you get enough protein from other sources later in the day.

You should also consider when you’re drinking your protein shake about the other meals and snacks you’re eating during the day.

Protein in the morning has been linked to better appetite management and longer-lasting energy. If you don’t have time for a meal or don’t have an appetite when you first get up, consider a protein shake.

If you’re having a shake for breakfast, it’s best to wait until after a couple of hours for lunch so that you don’t decrease the nutrients you’re getting from your solid meal. If you’re having a shake between meals as a snack, try to time it so that you still have enough time before dinner to get some additional nutrients from fruits or vegetables.

Don’t forget about post-workout recovery

After a hard workout, it’s important to replenish your energy stores and repair muscle damage. Drinking a protein shake after your workout can help you do this.

The best strategy for maximizing muscle protein synthesis (MPS) – the process by which your body repairs and rebuilds muscle fibers after a workout – is to take half your protein dose 30 minutes before your workout and the other half 30 minutes after. This is because MPS peaks about 30 minutes after exercise and slowly declines until two hours later.

Drinking a protein shake within 30 minutes of working out is generally best. However, if you’re drinking it for post-workout recovery, aim to consume it as soon as possible, ideally within 15 minutes of completing your workout. The faster you consume protein after your workout, the faster you begin muscle recovery.

Avoid drinking protein shakes too late at night

It is generally not recommended to consume a protein shake right before bed. Studies have shown that drinking a protein shake late at night can disrupt sleep and make you sluggish in the morning. Additionally, consuming too much protein before bed can lead to digestive issues and cramps.

Make sure you’re hydrated enough before drinking a shake

When you drink a protein shake, it’s important to ensure you’re hydrated enough before consuming it. Dehydration can lead to several health issues and interfere with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

You should drink at least 8 ounces of water roughly two hours before a protein shake. This will ensure that your body is properly hydrated and can absorb the nutrients in the shake. Additionally, drinking water before and after a protein shake can help your body eliminate any excess protein it doesn’t need.

Don’t drink a protein shake on an empty stomach

When it comes to protein shakes, the debate about when to consume them is not just about timing. While some people swear by drinking a shake on an empty stomach, others are concerned about the potential side effects. The truth is that it depends on your goals and the type of shake you’re drinking.

If you’re drinking a whey protein shake, it’s generally better to take it on an empty stomach because it is quickly digested and absorbed. This means you can get the full benefit of the protein more quickly. However, if you’re drinking a casein-based protein shake, it’s best to consume it with food because it is digested more slowly and can help keep you full for longer.

It’s also important to consider the other ingredients in your protein shake. If your shake contains added sugar or carbohydrates, it’s best to have it with a meal, as these ingredients need time to digest and absorb.

Overall, it’s important to remember that drinking a protein shake on an empty stomach may not be ideal for everyone. If you’re looking for a quick energy boost or a way to fill up before a workout, then having a shake on an empty stomach may not be the best choice. Make sure to consider your goals and your overall diet when deciding when to drink your protein shake.

Adjust your intake according to your activity level

Your daily protein intake should be adjusted according to your activity level. For example, if you’re a sedentary individual, you may benefit from 1.2–1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (g/kg/day).

If you’re an active individual, you may need up to 2.2–3.4 g/kg/day. Highly active individuals, such as athletes, can benefit from up to 3.4–4.4 g/kg/day.

It’s important to remember that everyone’s needs are different, and your optimal daily protein intake may be higher or lower than the general recommendation. It’s best to consult a registered dietitian or nutritionist for personalized advice tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Also, remember that the timing of your protein intake is just as important as the amount. You should aim to spread your protein intake evenly throughout the day and consume it around 30 minutes after a workout if that’s your goal.

Be aware of possible side effects from too much protein

Consuming too much protein can negatively affect health, including weight gain, dehydration, and even kidney damage. It is best to include a variety of whole foods in the diet over too many protein shakes.

Additionally, be aware of any intolerances to whey- or plant-based proteins, as they can cause bloating, gas, and other digestive issues. If you’re concerned about the possible health effects of protein supplements, it’s best to consult a doctor before making any changes to your diet or supplement routine.


Editorial Staff

Our writers, editors, content managers, and SEO specialist. We all take part in crafting amazing articles. We spend hours ensuring that each article is based on facts, researched, and thorough. You'll never want to click the back button to look for more answers other than here!