When should you drink protein shakes?

This question is about Nutrition

Elle Penner, MPH, RD

If your goal is muscle repair and recovery, you should drink protein shakes within two hours of exercise [


]. If you’re trying to lose weight, a protein shake can be beneficial when you find it hard to get enough protein at mealtime. 

When combined with a healthy diet, protein shakes are a convenient and cost-efficient way to boost protein intake and meet your nutrient needs. 

Protein shakes for muscle building and recovery

According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, consuming 20-40 g of high-quality protein shortly after exercise stimulates robust increases in muscle protein synthesis that can benefit both performance and recovery [



However, research shows that your total protein intake matters more than whether or not you have a protein shake after a workout [


]. Therefore, meeting your daily protein goals–preferably by consuming smaller amounts of protein every few hours–should be your first priority. 

Protein shakes for weight loss

Research suggests consuming 25-30 g of quality protein at breakfast, lunch, and dinner may benefit weight loss by improving energy metabolism, protein synthesis, and appetite control [



While Americans typically eat plenty of protein with lunch and dinner, evidence suggests protein consumption at breakfast is generally well below the 25-30 g/meal mark [


]. If you’re trying to lose weight and are not getting at least 25-30 g of protein at breakfast, drinking a protein shake in the morning may help your weight loss efforts.

Here’s how many protein shakes a day you can safely drink.

Whey protein in a clear scoop on a wooden background


  1. Kerksick, C. M., Arent, S., Schoenfeld, B. J., Stout, J. R., Campbell, B., Wilborn, C. D., Taylor, L., Kalman, D., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Kreider, R. B., Willoughby, D., Arciero, P. J., VanDusseldorp, T. A., Ormsbee, M. J., Wildman, R., Greenwood, M., Ziegenfuss, T. N., Aragon, A. A., & Antonio, J. (2017). International society of sports nutrition position stand: nutrient timing. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14, 33.


  2. Heather J Leidy, Peter M Clifton, Arne Astrup, Thomas P Wycherley, Margriet S Westerterp-Plantenga, Natalie D Luscombe-Marsh, Stephen C Woods, Richard D Mattes, The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 101, Issue 6, June 2015, Pages 1320S–1329S,