Protein is the macro-nutrient that sits at the top of all the others. When it comes to protein and what it can do, it’s easy to see why. Protein is used as a source of energy, helps with the muscle recovery process, and aids in the growth of muscle.

Even with its importance, it can sometimes be difficult to satisfy all your protein needs, which is where supplementation comes in. Protein supplements are some of the most widely used form of supplementation and are a very convenient way of increasing your protein intake.

But if you find yourself asking, “when is the best time to take protein?”, know that you’re not alone!

In this article, we will look at the best times to take protein, depending on your health goals.


The different forms of protein

Whey protein

This is a dairy-based protein. It contains quick-releasing proteins. [1]


This is a dairy-based protein. It contains slow releasing proteins, which are most beneficial in consumption before bed. [2]


This is a plant-based protein. This Is a great alternative to animal-based protein, it also has shown to have health benefits. [3]


This is a plant-based protein. It has shown benefits to increase health. [4]


When is the best time to take protein?

The answer to this question is entirely down to the goals you have set yourself. Is your aim to lose weight, gain muscle or keep the muscle you already have?

Here, we turn to science. According to the research, below are some of the best times to add protein to your diet.


Losing weight

Protein has an innate role when it comes to fat loss.

Studies have shown that eating a high protein diet can help with weight loss. [5] This is due to the thermogenic properties of protein. Protein also helps increase metabolism, all while lowering hunger.

This means getting a high protein snack can help with satiation. Satiating snacks can help you eat fewer calories, which will help you feel fuller and less likely to reach for the food press. [6]


Building Muscle

When building muscle, protein is a key factor. [7]

Building muscle requires you to do a lot of resistance training, to promote growth. To aid in muscle growth, you need to consume higher amounts of protein. Protein is important for muscle protein synthesis. The window for maximum muscle protein synthesis is dependent on nutrition timing and exercise.

A study performed by the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) has shown that consuming protein up to two hours after training is ideal for muscle mass building. [8] Therefore, there is no real need for you to eat as soon as you are finished a workout. Instead, consume protein within 2 hours of completing a workout.

It is more so important for those training at an athletic level to worry about timing. For the general population, it is more important to worry about protein intake as a whole, and reaching the daily recommended guidelines for physical activity. [9]


Preventing Muscle Loss

As we age, we are more susceptible to muscle loss, fractures and disease. [10]

Nutrition and exercise are essential components in helping to strengthen your bones, muscles, and joints.

It is recommended for older adults to include higher amounts of protein in their diet to help prevent muscle loss. This can be done through eating whole foods and supplementation, to eating the recommended 25-30 grams of protein per meal. [11]


Can I take protein before bed?

The short answer is yes.

Taking protein before bed can help you gain muscle faster. This is because as we train, we break down protein in the muscle. These broken-down forms of protein are known as amino acids. [12]

With lower or zero protein intake before bedtime, muscle protein synthesis tends to slow down while you sleep. By consuming these essential amino acids, your body will synthesize protein more efficiently during sleep.

The recommended amount is 20-30 grams, about 30 mins before bed. [11] When choosing a source of protein to ingest before bed, Casein has shown to be very effective, as it is a slow-releasing form of protein. [13] Other sources include dairy products, such as a snack of yogurt, granola, and berries, or a slice of brown bread with cottage cheese, as examples.


How much protein is too much?

Consuming excessively high amounts of any nutrient for a long period of time typically comes with risks, as can be the case with protein.

The recommended daily amount of protein can be calculated based on your body weight.

According to Healthline, for most people with minimal physical activity, experts recommend consuming a minimum daily average of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram (kg) of body weight. [14] If you exercise primarily with weights or body weight for more than one hour most days of the week, you may eat up to 1.2 to 1.7 grams per kg of body weight each day.

However, some people, including elite athletes, may be able to eat as much as 3.5 g per kg of body weight without any side effects.

In general, experts also believe that most healthy adults can tolerate eating 2 g of protein per kg of body weight per day over the long term.


To sum up...

Overall, it’s important that you eat a healthy, balanced diet and engage in an active lifestyle. Align your plan for achieving your goals, whether it’s weight loss or muscle gain, in a way that’s most beneficial to your health and that you can sustain long term.



[1] Hoffman, J. R., & Falvo, M. J. (2004). Protein - Which is Best?. Journal of sports science & medicine, 3(3), 118–130.

[2] Dangin, M., Boirie, Y., Garcia-Rodenas, C., Gachon, P., Fauquant, J., Callier, P., Ballèvre, O., & Beaufrère, B. (2001). The digestion rate of protein is an independent regulating factor of postprandial protein retention. American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism, 280(2), E340–E348.

[3] Iqbal, A., Khalil, I., Ateeq, N., & Sayyar Khan, M. (2006). Nutritional quality of important food legumes. Food Chemistry, 97(2), 331-335.

[4] Allen, J. K., Becker, D. M., Kwiterovich, P. O., Lindenstruth, K. A., & Curtis, C. (2007). Effect of soy protein-containing isoflavones on lipoproteins in postmenopausal women. Menopause (New York, N.Y.), 14(1), 106–114.

[5] Westerterp K. R. (2004). Diet induced thermogenesis. Nutrition & metabolism1(1), 5.

[6] Paddon-Jones, D., Westman, E., Mattes, R. D., Wolfe, R. R., Astrup, A., & Westerterp-Plantenga, M. (2008). Protein, weight management, and satiety. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 87(5), 1558S–1561S.

[7] Antonio, J., Ellerbroek, A., Silver, T., Orris, S., Scheiner, M., Gonzalez, A., & Peacock, C. A. (2015). A high protein diet (3.4 g/kg/d) combined with a heavy resistance training program improves body composition in healthy trained men and women--a follow-up investigation. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12, 39.

[8] 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.

[9] Physical Activity Guidelines & Resources - (2021). Retrieved 4 February 2021, from

[10] Angulo, J., El Assar, M., & Rodríguez-Mañas, L. (2016). Frailty and sarcopenia as the basis for the phenotypic manifestation of chronic diseases in older adults. Molecular aspects of medicine, 50, 1–32.

[11] Paddon-Jones, D., & Rasmussen, B. B. (2009). Dietary protein recommendations and the prevention of sarcopenia. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 12(1), 86–90.

[12] Trommelen, J., & van Loon, L. J. (2016). Pre-Sleep Protein Ingestion to Improve the Skeletal Muscle Adaptive Response to Exercise Training. Nutrients8(12), 763.

[13] Pennings, B., Boirie, Y., Senden, J. M., Gijsen, A. P., Kuipers, H., & van Loon, L. J. (2011). Whey protein stimulates postprandial muscle protein accretion more effectively than do casein and casein hydrolysate in older men. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 93(5), 997–1005.

[14] Healthline. 2021. Are There Risks Associated with Eating Too Much Protein?. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17 February 2021]