Timing matters: When you should be taking protein supplements
12/17/2018 // Michelle Simmons // Views

Protein supplements can help you gain weight, lose weight, or maintain your weight. It all depends on how they are incorporated into a dietary plan and when they are taken. A review of studies, which was published in the journal Nutrition Reviews, found that protein supplements should be taken during a meal and not in between meals for successful body weight management. However, if the goal is to gain weight, it is best to consume protein supplements between meals.

The review, carried out by nutrition experts at Purdue University, included 34 studies with 59 intervention groups related to this topic. The researchers chose these studies based on specific factors: the inclusion of healthy adults; intake of protein supplements between meals or with meals; whether outcomes made a difference in lean muscle mass; and at least six weeks duration for each study.

Based on their analysis, they found that protein supplementation is effective in increasing lean mass, but taking them with meals also helped maintain their body weight. Contrary to this, taking protein supplements between meals promoted weight gain. (Related: Take your protein supplements with meals to improve your resistance training.)

According to the researchers, the timing matters because a person may tend to adjust their calorie intake at a meal time to incorporate the protein supplement. When protein supplements are consumed as snacks, calories at meal times may not be adjusted to compensate the supplement's calories. In turn, this can result in a higher calorie intake for that day.


"If the goal is to manage weight, then snacking on protein supplements may be less effective. People who are trying to gain weight may consider consuming protein supplements between meals," said Wayne Campbell, a professor of nutrition science and senior author on the study.

Types of protein supplements

While protein can be obtained from foods such as meats, dairy products, nuts, and beans, many people still take protein supplements to obtain protein's amino acids easier. However, not all supplements are made equal. Listed below are several types of protein supplements and their pros and cons.

Whey protein: Whey, which is probably the most popular type of protein supplement today, is a byproduct of the process of turning milk into cheese. Whey protein can help promote lean muscle growth and fat loss and support cardiovascular health and a healthy metabolism. Since it is easily absorbed by the body, it is a great supplement for post-workout recovery. It is a complete protein, which means that it contains all of the amino acids that the body needs from food. However, since it is available in many flavors to make it taste more palatable, some brands may use artificial sweeteners and chemicals. Whey protein may also be indigestible for some people who are lactose intolerant.

Casein protein: This type of protein provides similar benefits to whey protein, but it takes time to be digested by the body. Therefore, it is best consumed before bed. Because casein comes from dairy, it may not be suitable for vegans and those with milk allergies. It is also more expensive than whey and typically contains many artificial ingredients to help make it more palatable.

Hemp protein: Derived from the seeds of the cannabis plant, hemp protein is a complete protein and is suitable for vegans and those with dairy or soy allergies. It is often the most expensive protein powder available because hemp is harvested in mass quantities in limited countries due to its link to cannabis.

Pea protein: Because it comes from the yellow split pea, pea protein is a great choice for vegetarians and vegans. It is also hypoallergenic like most plant-based proteins. However, it may lack in certain amino acids, so it should not be used as a primary source of dietary protein.

Learn more about the benefits of taking protein supplements by going to SupplementsReport.com.

Sources include:



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