It’s not enough to know how to make the best protein shake in the world. You also need to be able to get the most out of this delicious and nutritious beverage. If you’re under the impression that downing more than five protein shakes a day is the most effective way to get fast results, this guide is for you.

In this post, I’m going to shed some light on this highly debated topic by discussing the three best times to take your protein shake so you can avoid unnecessary spending and digestion problems. But first, let’s talk about muscle protein synthesis and breakdown. Muscle growth or hypertrophy can occur only when the former exceeds the latter. Strength training or HIIT will boost protein synthesis, but your muscles will only grow if your diet has sufficient amino acids, a supplement that’s known for its numerous amazing benefits.

And to ensure optimal muscle recovery and growth, you should drink your protein shake at the following times:

1. When you wake up
If you’re not in the mood to cook up a hearty meal right after getting out of bed, prepare a protein shake instead. You haven’t eaten anything for at least 7 hours, so your glycogen stores are running low and your body has turned to amino acid stores to fuel metabolic processes. Getting at least 20 grams of protein at this point will keep you from plunging into a catabolic (breakdown) state, and maintain a positive protein balance.

2. Before your workout
Do you eat a meal or snack consisting of complex carbohydrates and lean protein at least two hours prior to working out? If the answer is yes, a protein shake is not necessary. You will already have a steady supply of nutrients to fuel your intense exercises and keep muscle protein breakdown to a minimum. On the other hand, if you’re pressed for time and can’t sneak in some healthy food before heading off to the gym, drinking a protein shake should go without saying. This will give you plenty of amino acids to reduce breakdown and improve muscle recovery.

3. After your workout
This is without a doubt the best time to drink your protein shake. Your workout will trigger both the synthesis and breakdown of muscle proteins. Your muscles will be in an anabolic state for several hours, which means it will be responsive to amino acids. If you have sufficient amino acids, synthesis will exceed breakdown, and muscle recovery and growth can occur.

It’s worth remembering that while the most delicious and nutritious protein shake every day can do wonders for muscle recovery and growth, it’s still just a supplement. It can’t trump a diet of nutritious, whole, raw and organic foods. So don’t forget to add more superfoods to your meals and snacks as well. Of course, your schedule doesn’t allow for a healthy meal at a certain point during the day, a protein shake and some complex carbs would be an awesome substitute.

If you’re not sure if you should start taking supplements now, this blog post is for you.

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