Sometimes eating whole foods is not just the best choice, especially if you are looking to add pure muscle mass while staying lean. Whole foods take too long to digest, causing you to lose crucial time and muscle building potential. It’s a during these time that a protein shake is the best for the job. For one, the body digests a shake easily and its nutrients are available within a short time to kick-start the muscle building process. Second, your body is more receptive to protein during certain time frames. These time frames are called “opportunity windows” and consuming a protein shake in that window maximizes muscle gains and prevents muscle catabolism. Furthermore, there are other occasions where a blend of proteins and carbs is the most appropriate for your goal. Below is a list of the best time to take your protein. We also provide the perfect protein/carb blend to mix for your shake to encourage the building of lean muscle while starving off your fat stores.
1. First thing in the morning
The period from bedtime to wake-up time in the morning is the longest that your body goes without food. More often than not your body will enter into a catabolic state without any supply of nutrients throughout the night. So if your goal is to add lean muscle mass the first thing you should do when you get up is to consume fast-acting protein and carbs. This will stop any catabolic effect that has started during the night.
- Go for a faster-acting protein like whey first thing in the morning. Get 20-40 grams of whey protein and 20-40 grams of fast-digesting carbs, then eat breakfast containing slow-digesting carbs a half hour later.
2. Before workouts
Having a shake before your workout supplies you with all the nutrients you need to fuel through your grueling workout sessions, maximize muscle growth, and prevent muscle breakdown. A quickly digested protein combined with some slow-digesting carbs are a good choice. In addition, you can add a pre-workout supplement that boosts blood flow to muscles and enhances strength.
- An hour before your workout take in 20 grams of fasting digesting protein such as Whey or Egg protein with 20-40 grams of slow-digesting carbs.
3. After workouts
Post-workout is the single most important time of the day to get protein. This is called the big “window of opportunity”. Your muscles are very receptive to nutrients and are ready to repair and rebuild exercise-induced damage as well as replenishing glycogen stores. By supplying a postworkout recovery protein containing whey, casein, soy, and simple carbohydrates during this timeframe, you’ll help ensure your muscles are well recovered and ready to make big gains.
- Within 30 minutes of your workout consume a total of 40-60 grams blend of fast- and slow-digesting protein such as whey and casein protein and 30-60 grams of fasting digesting carbs.
4. Before bedtime
Prepare your body for the long fast ahead with a protein shake a half an hour before bed. Opt for casein as the primary ingredient. Unlike whey which is rapidly digested, casein is a time-released protein and is digested at a much slower rate, releasing its amino acids over several hours throughout the night while you sleep. Casein is also considered anti-catabolic because it’s rich in glutamine and other amino acids that help protect against muscle breakdown.
- Before you hit the shack, consume 20 grams of casein protein. Avoid the carbs at this time. Mix the casein protein with water or milk.