What Is The Best Time To Have A Protein Shake?

When should you drink your protein shake?

A lot of bodybuilders (myself included) consider protein supplements just like any other protein food. So rather than thinking:

When should you have a protein shake?

Think instead of…

When should you consume a high protein meal?

The standard bodybuilding diet calls for a high protein meal every 2-3 hours during the day. So if you can consume a solid food high protein meal, great, by all means do that. But if you can’t, then this would be an ideal time to supplement with protein to make up for that high protein meal.


From my experience of working with literally hundreds of people over the years with regards to nutrition, I can tell you that the most challenging time for most people to consume a high protein meal is with breakfast.

The average person tends to sleep in too late and then they are in a rush to get to work, school, or whatever and they very often skip breakfast all together or they’ll quickly woof down the typical high carb “breakfast foods” (i.e. cereal & milk, toast, bagel, muffin, etc.)

Let’s just say that this is NOT the ideal way to start your day. This stuff is just loading you up with a ton of sugar and starch with very little real nutritional value. High carb breakfast foods like this will spike your insulin levels, easily get stored as bodyfat, and they will also lead to the typical sugar crash a few hours later.

A much healthier and better option for building a lean muscular physique would be to start your day off with a protein shake and some slow digesting carbs such as a bowl of oatmeal. This is still a very quick meal that can be prepared in minutes and it will kick start your day with a good serving of muscle building protein.


For the mid-morning break most people will either run to the vending machine, grab a candy bar, go for coffee and donuts, or some other high carb sugar fix. A better option would be to fill up on some protein instead. In cases like this when a quick convenient source of protein is needed, a protein bar can often work great.

Now I’ll admit protein bars are not “perfect” by any means, but they are a heck of a lot better then candy bars, chips, and donuts. So packing a couple protein bars in your briefcase or schoolbag can help bridge the gaps between meals and provide you a quick protein source.


When it comes to lunch, most people do “OK” with getting some protein. Most people who brown bag their own lunches will usually include some form of sandwich with meat on it (i.e. tuna, roast beef, chicken, etc.) While this is still a relatively small serving of protein, it’s better than nothing. But you could jack up your protein intake with lunch by including a protein shake mixed up in a shaker bottle and take it with you to work or school.

After Workouts…

Another critical time for consuming protein supplements is right after a hard weight training workout. This is when your muscles are depleted and could really use the fast digesting protein found in a protein shake to help aid with growth and recovery.

So taking a protein shake with you to the gym (often referred to as a “Post Workout Shake”) and having it after your workouts would be another fantastic time to consume protein supplements.


When it comes to dinner most folks tend to do pretty good here. In fact this would be the meal where the average person consumes the majority of their daily protein intake. When I ask guys what they eat for dinner the typical answer I’ll get is:

“What ever the wife cooks…”
“What ever mom cooks…”

But luckily, most of our wives and moms tend to cook up a solid “meat and potatoes” type of meal for dinner so generally your protein intake is covered for this one.

Before Bed…

After dinner / before bed is another time with most people tend to get slack with their protein intake. Again the average Joe is going to probably be kicking back on the couch watching TV… Or maybe he will be sitting at his computer reading an article on www.LeeHayward.com about protein… who knows 😉

And when he gets the munchies he will often reach for typical high carb snack foods like chips, cookies, crackers, etc. Now again I don’t need to tell you that this is just an insulin spiking, fat storing nightmare, especially when eaten prior to going to bed.

A good alternative here would be to consume a high protein snack instead. Below are some of my favorite tasty high protein snacks to have in the evening before bed:

  • 1 cup of plain yogurt mixed up with a scoop of protein powder. This mixes up like a creamy pudding.
  • 1 cup of cottage cheese mixed with a scoop of protein powder. Kind of similar to the yogurt pudding, but you get the curds from the cottage cheese in there.
  • High protein blender smoothie. Mix up 1 cup of pasteurized egg whites, 1 scoop of protein powder, add in frozen strawberries, blueberries, etc. and blend it up to make a nice high protein smoothie.

Give this simple and tasty high protein snack a try…

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About The Author


Lee Hayward is a former competitive bodybuilder and muscle building coach who has been online coaching people since 1997. His work has been featured in several international magazines such as: FLEX, Muscle Insider, Muscle Mag International, Testosterone, Ironmag, and Forbes. Lee's main focus right now is with helping men over 40 - who don't want to be fat anymore - lose the gut, build muscle, and get back in shape. If you're ready to "Start Again" for the last time and finally build a lean healthy body that you can be proud of, just e-mail Lee to discuss a realistic action plan that's right for you... lee@leehayward.com


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  • joe defrancesco

    Lee,tried the protein and cottage its great!!! Mixed with chocolate it taste like cake batter, almost like you’re cheatin, Great idea.i have been bodybuilding for 25 yrs.never tried it

  • Samlucky

    im following ur workout regularly…nd i just hve a doubt dat wat type of meal nd breakfast is to be take before nd after workout..please if u can help me in dis..den its soo thnkfull 2u…

  • Samlucky,


    Just click on the link below and download a copy of my Bodybuilding Quick Start Kit, this includes a free nutrition program that shows you exactly what types of foods you need to eat for bodybuilding.


  • Que

    I often go to gym without any meal and body seems handling okay as working out about two hours. The two hour workout includes cardio plus weight training. I like to hit the gym early morning than late. However, I do go to gym in the afternoon often as well.

    What would you recommend as far as food intake for case like me?


  • Que,

    I would recommend a protein shake about 30 minutes before your workouts and another one right after your workouts.

  • Chad

    Lee, for me my stomach just isn’t ready upon waking like that. I usually need at least 20 to 30 minutes. Does that happen to you? I guess this is something I should just get over if I want to give myself the best muscle building chances huh?

  • Chad,

    It’s not a huge deal if you wait 20 minutes before having a protein shake in the morning.

  • hey sir! i want to know that im taking protein shake 30 min before workout and next shake after 30 min workout is it good timing to take protein shakes???. and sir i also want to know that im using whey protein shake it will give me mass aur just give cuts in my body???? please reply me..

  • Tereza

    Hey, I am currently overweight and i want to tone and get fit. Should I consider taking protein shakes on a daily basis and work the gym in the evening? I want to loss at least 30lbs and my birthday is just around the corner. What could i do to get the ball rollingo n this?

  • Hector Woodland

    Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed! Extremely useful info specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such info much. I was looking for this certain info for a very long time. Thank you and good luck.

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    This is a great assortment of information you described in this article, I really believe we could count on much more very soon.

  • Protein Shakes

    I was not thinking too much about the time to take protein shakes i take it any time no fix time to take it.

  • Adam

    Lee, this is a different topic, but is it better to modify your suggested 3 day split and put shoulders and traps on a seperate day from chest and tris?

  • Kane

    Yes I am going to consume 4-5 of my meals as protein shakes…

  • ravinderpal singh

    sir ,

    i want a diet plan from u.pleaseb help me for all day diet included with all sources of protein ,carbohydrates,and what ever i need for make me healthy .i always goes to gym.

  • Lee, I love your reminder on the high-carb breakfasts. Guilty. Gotta change.

  • Muhd Aliff

    im Aliff..im trying to lose my weight..what is the best way to lose my weight..now im 100kg,i want to tone to 85 to hv a lean muscle. any comment?every morning i eat oats and i dont eat till lunch. is it a proper way?

  • I’m a 2 protein shake a day guy. One for breakfast and one after my workout. Couldn’t get through the day without them!

  • dave

    I have enjoying the yogurt protein snack for a couple months now. Another great option I have found besides the chocolate protein powder is banana creme flavored protein powder. 7oz. of greek yogurt a scoop of the banana creme powder and a tablespoon of peanut butter makes for a great snack as well. I get that flavor at vitamin shoppe but I’m sure other supplement stores have something comparable. Sometimes I add roasted shelled pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds to add a bit of a crunch to the yogurt snack.

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  • I didn’t know you could take the protien powder before bed?
    I will try that now lee! I normally take one half hr before then straight after my workouts !
    I am also in my 4th week of your body mass and strength course. It’s amazing I have improved on my strength already! Thanks !!

  • Dan


    I used to drink shakes.
    Now what I do is I drink milk after my workouts.
    Milk has protein and simple carbs which you body needs immediately after your workouts.
    Post-workout is the only time I advocate ingesting simple carbs.

  • amar

    That’s very good information you shared over here.Usually we used to take the pre-work out and post workout protein shake.

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