ask our dietitian your question todayknow when to drink  your protein shake


I’m 32 years-old, 5’4” and weigh about 200 pounds. I’m just starting out with my weight loss workout and diet routine. From what I have read and understand, you have a 30 to 60 minute window to drink a post work out shake after you exercise, and that this should be done even more so after a more intense workout. Should I drink my whey protein shake after my strength training but before my cardio? Or drink it when I’m done with my entire workout? – Tiffany


Great question about timing your protein shake with a two-phase workout! If your total time exercising is less than 90 minutes (which I advise if you’re just starting out), just wait until after you’re completely done. No need to disrupt your groove. Relying on consistent, balanced meals—with one meal eaten 2 to 3 hours prior to your workout—will get you through your exercise session until you have your recovery drink. Yes, within 30 minutes afterward for optimal utilization.

I go to the gym regularly, so should I be drinking protein shakes? Are they harmful?

In the future…for workouts longer than 1.5 hours, you might consider drinking your shake between strength and cardio since you’ll need more hydration and energy anyway. Mind your tolerance for having something in your gut, though. Jumping around with a sloshing belly isn’t fun or productive. Keeping the volume down to under 12 fl. oz. might abate any tummy issues during cardio.

In either case, be sure that you’re adjusting meals to allow for the calories in the shake. You don’t want to add calories to your day, just shift them to support your time in the gym. Not doing this is a big mistake people make about protein shakes, workout bars and recovery meals. Make room in the rest of your day for the energy in the shake. Aim for under 150 calories and about 15 grams protein for in ideal serving. No need to go bigger if you’re trying to get smaller.

 – Debbie J., MS, RD

Do you have a question about your diet or nutrition? Ask our dietitian by submitting your question to or simply ask it in the COMMENTS section below.

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Debbie James is a registered dietitian. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or recommendations of Fitness International, LLC.



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