Studies show the best time to have protein for muscle gain is within 1 hour of finishing your workout to assist in the rebuilding of damaged muscle fibres. Muscle growth doesn’t necessarily happen at the same time as protein intake, but over the 24-48 hrs following resistance training.
If you’re new to weightlifting or working out you’re probably keen to make sure that your nutrition is going to support your exercise efforts. If you’re not, then you definitely should be! It’s really easy to become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of “bro science” out there about weight lifting and nutrition. There’s 100’s of different supplements people will try and sell you as the way to maximise your gains.
If you’re just getting started I urge you to ignore the bro-science, just eat well and focus on getting the basics right and being consistent. You can complicate it later if you choose too.
70% Nutrition / 30% Exercise
I’ve always had the belief (which is echoed by many), that what you eat is a bigger driver for health and your performance goals, than the exercise you may or may not do. If your body is not getting the right fuel, how do you expect it to run? Focus on getting your food right first, and you’ll see the effects of your exercise compound.
How much protein should I have?
The number you’ll often see floating around the internet is 0.8g per kilogram of bodyweight. So for an average 75kg adult the widely held consensus is that they should be consuming around 60g of protein per day. However this generalisation has MANY shortfalls. The real answer to “How much protein should I have?” is a little bit trickier.
The amount of protein you should have is dependant on a number of factors; your weight, height, age, sex, your level of exercise, and most importantly, your goals.
Luckily, the good people over at bodybuilding.com have put together a fantastic calculator which will help show you how much protein you should have.
Out of curiosity I popped in my figures. According to their calculator, a 30yr old very active male looking to gain muscle, standing 200cm tall and weighing 105kg should be consuming 280g of protein per day. There’s a very good chance you’re not as tall or heavy as me, so make sure to head across to their calculator and plug in your own figures.
When is the best time to have protein?
This one is really going to depend on a number of factors. Ultimately, you just want to ensure that throughout the day you’re getting enough protein. There are a number of studies that go into whether pre workout protein is better than post workout protein and this again is really importance if you’re a bit more advanced in your training and nutrition.
I’ve found the best way to go for most people is to just spread it out fairly evenly over the day, making sure to consume a bit extra around your workouts.
When is the best time to have a protein shake?
I find for me, the best time to have a protein shake is after exercise in the afternoons. I personally find protein shakes a bit hard to stomach first thing in the morning. If I’ve just been to Bootcamp or the gym I still want to make sure I’m getting enough protein, so I’ll generally opt for some Protein Pancakes or simply a couple of slices of Protein Bread with some cheese and Vegemite 🙂
Should I have protein pre workout?
At first glance a 2007 study seems to show that having protein pre workout is better than having nothing at all, and has the same or similar effect on muscle growth as a post workout protein shake. The basic takeaway when you read more into is that the science of protein pre workout is still out, all though what’s not, is the importance of getting enough protein during your day as a whole.
Should I have post workout protein?
Yes. Studies have shown that the right post workout protein intake after high intensity resistance training significantly contributes to the growth of both size and strength of muscle tissue, especially for elderly men. As with the above question, what’s more important is just making sure you’re having enough protein, rather than trying to figure out when is the best time to have protein.