As of right now, the most important research paper is a 2013 meta-analysis of 43 studies related to protein timing around a workout by Dr. Schoenfeld, Alan Aragon, and James Kreiger (literature review).
Basically, they found that the research so far says that timing your protein around a workout doesn’t seem to meaningfully help to build muscle or strength.
The main thing that matters is the total daily intake of protein. Not the timing.
But on the other hand, there are studies like this one that says it does help, and as Dr. Helm’s points out in this protein science article, there could be more of a benefit for “well-trained” lifters to be having protein powder while training. And one of the most respected journals in the industry, JISSN, published a public position that said an upwards of 70g of protein powder with a workout could help stop muscle break-down (position).
The Outlive take on protein timing
Either way, having protein in a workout shake around your workout is still a good idea even if we’re unsure about what possible benefits there might be.
The reason why is:
- having a protein shake with your workout is a super easy way to add protein to your day when trying to get bigger or leaner. Many people find the optimum protein goals difficult to reach.
- a workout is a fantastic habit cue to remind you to have some protein powder when you normally wouldn’t be eating or hungry.
What this could look like in real life
So, let’s say you wanted to bump your protein intake up 60g, you’d get a workout shaker and add a couple of scoops of your favourite protein powder, and sip on it as you work out. You might get some additional benefits (or maybe not, the research isn’t clear yet), and you’ll hit your protein goals more easily and more consistently.
The final word
Having a protein shake around your workout is really simple to do and it might help a tiny bit in terms of results. But you must focus on the fundamentals first. So in terms of priorities, get these in the right order:
- hitting your daily protein goals first
- then worry about spreading out your protein every 3–5 hours for maximum protein synthesis
- then worry about having a protein shake with your workout
Want to learn even more about protein powder? Check out our massive protein powder super-guide.