Is It OK To Drink Protein Shakes Before Working Out?

While protein shakes are one of the best things you can take for growing concentrated muscle, is it ok to drink them before working out? Short answer – yes, it’s absolutely ok to drink them and in fact there may be more benefit to that compared to drinking one post-workout!

Typically, protein shakes are aimed at providing you with a high source of protein with not much else in it. What happens during a workout session is your muscles are essentially broken down by each activity, letting the muscle then rebuild to be stronger and larger. BCAA’s (branch-chain amino acids) are commonly found in both pre-workout supplements as well as in protein powders, and they are a large key to the mass-gaining puzzle.


These useful little nutrients are what kick starts it all. During a workout, your muscles get broken down, or enter a state of catabolism. They then rebuild back a little bit stronger and bigger each time, which is the state of anabolism, or muscular growth. Taking BCAAs before a workout will help to start protein synthesis during a workout rather than after the training session.

Fat Burning

During a low-carb diet such as a ketogenic diet, having a BCAA-rich protein shake or pre-workout mix leads to an increase in fat oxidization during high intensity exercises. In short, that leaves you with more fat being burned. This effect is especially pronounced when glycogen levels are low – which is often when on a low-carb diet.

Getting The Most From Your Workout

The best thing you could have beforehand is large amount of complex carbohydrates a few hours before and simple carbohydrates around an hour before the session. This will in turn increase the amount of energy available to you for your exercises. 30 minutes before a workout consume either your protein shake or another BCAA-rich source to really help with muscle synthesis.

Some good energy sources before a workout instead of protein shakes would be fruits like an apple, banana or some kiwis just before the session and to really boost your energy levels beforehand opt for something like whole-grain breads, pastas or brown rice and hour or two before working out. The complex carbohydrates boost your blood-glucose levels with a much slower but longer arc, while simple carbohydrates give you essentially a spike in energy.

This study demonstrates that after 3 hours from the end of your workout, protein synthesis drops by around 50%, so ensuring you get your proteins in before that window is vital! In fact, it’s recommended to have a protein shake directly before/after a workout for maximum effectiveness. The window for protein synthesis is rather small and missing that timeframe could be detrimental to your personal growth! Read more about it here: when should you take a weight gainer?


So, perhaps taking, let’s say, whey protein for weight gain before the workout may actually benefit you more than if you were to instead have it after. Making sure you get a healthy dose of BCAAs, carbohydrates and proteins before a workout makes the difference between a normal session and getting a wicked pump. You can’t ruin a good diet with bad exercise, but you can ruin good exercise with a bad diet.

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