Should You Have Protein Before or After Your Workout?

Weights and shake
Photo by Derick McKinney on Unsplash

Protein has become the go-to inclusion in eating plans, thanks to its ability to increase muscle and strength, as well as boost metabolism. The question is, though—when should you have it?

Protein shakes seem like an ideal addition to workout routines, but the compound is not the easiest for the body to digest. As a more complex macronutrient than carbs, protein requires your body to send blood to the stomach to break it down. The issue arises if that signal is being sent in the midst of exercising. 

During a workout, blood gets diverted to your muscles as those are what you are using (and exhausting). The result is less blood being sent to the stomach to break down food, thus leaving you in discomfort with an upset tummy. 

As such, try to avoid around 2.5 hours before working out. If the hunger pangs do hit, however, stick with carbs. A granola bar or a banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter is still okay an hour before exercising, but if you need to eat less than half an hour before working out, try something like apple sauce. 

Because protein is so essential to muscle gain, it’s important to eat some after you exercise to prevent muscle breakdown. Protein shakes are great if you need a quick, convenient option, but natural sources of protein, such as chicken or tofu, are always best.