When should I take my protein supplement, right after working out with weights or after cardio? The reason I ask is because I do cardio after weights so I would like to know the optimal time to take my supplement. -Patrico
I wouldn’t interrupt your workout to down a protein supplement between your weights and cardio routine.
Without a break, you’ll get the benefit of working your muscles to burn fat while your metabolism is still revved up from the resistance. Plus, muscle repair is maximized when cells are at rest, not during exercise.
Recovery nutrition is by definition during recovery. Typical protein supplements, whether powder or beverage form, contain easily digestible whey for a more immediate effect than chowing through a turkey sandwich. So you’ll be just fine consuming your protein after your total workout is completed, but optimally within a half-hour.
Of course, this is assuming you’ve eaten properly throughout the day and haven’t entered your exercise session in a fasted state.
If you’re running on empty, you may opt for a sports drink during your workout to hydrate and keep blood sugar up for the most effective training. A little protein won’t hurt, but it’s not going to be used for laying down new muscle fiber while you are still exercising. If anything it will contribute to meet your energy demands until you are out of a caloric deficit when your intake meets/surpasses what you’re burning.
- Debbie J., MS, RD
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