Should I take a Protein Supplement Before or after a Weight Training Workout?

The question of whether or not you should consume protein pre-workout or post-workout is often debated. There may not be a black and white answer.  It will depend on a variety of factors and the individual.

Why are you training?

You first need to know what your goal for training is. Once you know what your goal is, you can determine what your caloric and nutritional needs will need to be. When you are weight training and doing it correctly it causes damage to muscle and protein is required to build and repair that muscle. When protein is consumed in conjunction with resistance training it will be the most beneficial for stimulating muscle growth and muscle repair.

If you are working out for recreation or general health protein is still important but the timing in which you consume it is not going to make a significant difference. A better question may be to ask if you are nutrient deficient in any other areas of the diet or whether or not you are getting an adequate amount of quality protein daily? A certain amount of protein is stored in the body and used as it is needed. If you keep topping off those stores before or after will just come down to preference.

If you are an elite level athlete, physique competitor, or have some very specific goals the timing of protein may be important for that extra few percent improvements. If you are in a fasted state or on a keto type diet ingesting protein prior to a workout may be beneficial. If you are doing longer workouts lasting over 1.5 hrs ingesting protein during the workout may be needed to prevent muscle breakdown.

Protein is not everything

Nutritional intake is highly specific to the individual and the type of work they are performing. Protein is important but you must also consider the other macros nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and hydration if you are looking to optimize your workout and health.

Protein before training

2–3 hours prior to a training session having a some slower digesting high-quality protein with a meal may be beneficial

30-60 minutes prior to training a faster-digesting protein or protein supplement will be more beneficial

Protein after training

The time-frame in which digest protein after your work is highly debated.

It does not seem to be counterproductive digesting a high-quality protein immediately after training to start the recovery process.

There is some information that supports waiting a few hours after a workout before consuming any food. Some research suggests there may be some hormonal benefits such as increases HGH and testosterone and also helps deplete some other store of protein and glycogen.

Experiment & Track progress

  1. First, establish a goal for your training.

  2. Make sure you are following a quality training/nutrition program that is specific to you and your goals.

  3. Most importantly just make sure you can adhere to the protocol and follow it through.

  4. Take some notes when you are training and note what your diet looked like that day.

  5. Take a few weeks and note how you are feeling before/during/after training.

  6. After a few weeks review your notes and try to see if you can find some patterns where you progressed and felt the best.