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Protein Powder for Muscle Gain: Timing Is Everything

In All Health Watch, Diet and Nutrition, Fitness and Exercise

Protein powder was once used mainly by bodybuilders. But now it has gone mainstream. 

It’s often used by seniors who want to maintain or add weight to avoid becoming thin and frail.  

Protein supplements are also used by people who don’t necessarily want to get heavier, but want to add muscle. 

Which of these goals you have should determine the time of day you take your protein powder, according to a Purdue University study. 

Researchers there analyzed 34 previous studies of people who used daily protein supplements. Some participants took their protein with meals. Others consumed it between meals.

The researchers compared changes in lean muscle mass, weight, and body composition between the two groups. 

They found that the benefits of taking protein powder varied greatly depending on when people consumed it. 

When to Take Your Protein Supplement 

The researchers discovered that taking protein with a meal or in between meals produces different results: 

  • Taking protein powder with a meal improves your chances of gaining muscle and losing fat without putting on weight. 
  • Taking protein power between meals is more likely to help you increase your overall body mass…both muscle and fat. You’re more likely to gain weight. 

Why Timing Is Everything  

Dr. Wayne Campbell is a professor of nutrition science at Purdue. He was the senior author on the study. He and his colleagues concluded that “consuming protein supplements with meals, rather than between meals, may more effectively promote weight control and reduce fat mass.”ii 

But “people who are trying to gain weight may consider consuming protein supplements between meals,” Dr. Campbell said.iii 

Why does timing make a difference? 

Dr. Campbell explained that people tend to adjust their calorie count at a meal to include the calories in the protein supplement, he said. So when you have protein powder during meals you eat fewer calories overall. 

But “such dietary compensation is likely missing when protein supplements are consumed as snacks (between meals),” he said. 

The research was published in the journal Nutrition Review. 

The Best Kind of Protein Supplement  

Americans spend over $5 billion on protein supplements each year. 

It’s important to choose wisely. Many brands are loaded with artificial colors, sugars, soy, hydrolyzed proteins, and artificial sweeteners.iv 

Take time to read the ingredients before you buy. Look for grass-fed varieties that are soy-free.  

Mix protein powder with filtered water. Or use coconut water. That way you’ll get healthy electrolytes in addition to body-building protein.  

Another option is to mix it with organic milk, which gives you an even greater protein boost.  

Editor’s Note: Muscle mass—more than any other factor—may determine how long you’ll live. Discover how to get a stronger body even as you get older. Get all the details in our monthly journal Independent Healing by clicking HERE. 

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