Best Time To Take A Protein Supplement For Maximum Gains

Zottman curl

Protein is the essential building block for muscle and knowing when to best take it to optimize performance is important.

We may choose to exercise for any number of reasons from staying fit and healthy, to promoting weight loss, to aiding in our cognitive abilities, and a host of others. But regardless of our reason, for those of us who want to see big gains, or just simply give our bodies the proper fuel post-workout to really aid in our overall health, then a good protein supplement is needed to enhance those goals. Considering the indispensable role protein plays in muscle growth and weight loss, placing a protein supplement on your shelf is a must.

With so many protein supplements on the market today, it is important for us to break down just what protein is, why it is so important, the key benefits of protein, and of course, the best time to take it to optimize maximum gains. As an energy source and a muscle builder, you won’t be disappointed by what protein can do for you.

protein powder

What Is Protein?

Protein is made up of organic compounds called amino acids that provide the foundation for protein to act as the building blocks for cells. This will allow cells to grow and repair themselves. There are 20 amino acids that make up protein and can help with benefits like muscle growth and recovery when it comes to your fitness goals. While many foods are high in protein, or at least contain some protein, it is important to recognize that a good protein supplement can work wonders for you and your bodybuilding goals (1).

protein bars

Whey Isolate Vs. Whey Concentrate

The two major types of whey protein supplements to take are whey isolate and whey concentrate. While they are largely both the same in terms of benefits, there are a few differences that exist to potentially make you lean one way or the other. While whey protein seems to be the most popular protein supplement, there are other plant-based products that are really great for those who are vegan or sensitive to dairy, or who are looking for an alternative source of protein for their supplement.

Check out our list of the best vegan protein powders here!

Whey concentrate is one protein supplement to consider when looking to enhance your goals. It is high in protein, but also high in carbs and some fat, which is where some people tend to stay away. It does contain vitamins and minerals, as well as a variety of bioactive compounds that give whey plenty of benefits (2). The downside to whey concentrate is the amount of carbs and lactose included which can cause bloating and not be conducive to some diets.

Whey isolate is the other form of whey protein that you can consider for your supplement. Whey isolate is a more filtered form of whey that undergoes an isolation process that is more intense than a whey concentrate. This will result in a higher protein content while eliminating many of the excess carbs and fat, so for those carb or calorie conscious, this is a great choice. As a leaner source of protein, it does tend to be more expensive, but is a more pure source of protein to really aid in recovery (3).

strong man

Benefits Of Protein

While the benefits of protein seem fairly obvious at this point, we wanted to make sure this macronutrient doesn’t go unnoticed. The benefit to your overall growth and development as an athlete but also as a person are greatly affected by your protein intake and it is important to not neglect it.

The benefits of protein include:

  • Promotes muscle growth and recovery: Containing BCAAs, which are a major role in stimulating protein synthesis, you promote muscle growth and recovery by allowing your muscles to heal and strengthen (4).
  • Maintains muscles: With plenty of protein, you won’t lose that hard earned muscle due to muscle wasting.
  • Increases metabolism: Protein has a higher thermic effect on your body as a result of food and that energy used in digestion can boost your metabolism to see that desired physique (5).
  • Encourages fullness: By reducing appetite and hunger levels, it will lower your caloric intake and lead to weight loss.

Best Time To Take Protein

Much debate is had around this topic of when the best time to take a protein supplement is. For muscle growth, in the window of 15-60 minutes after you finish working out is a reasonable time frame, but some studies have shown that up to two hours after your workout is also a reasonable window for adequate consumption (6).

If you typically train in a fasted state, aim to take it as soon after a workout as you can. For those endurance athletes, taking protein during and after a workout can see improved performance and recovery, and resistance training athletes should consider taking right before or immediately after.

Featured Protein

Transparent Labs is a great sports supplement company with high quality products to aid in all of your bodybuilding goals. A company who prides themselves on transparent labels and the best ingredients, these two protein supplements from Transparent Labs are everything you need for your whey isolate or concentrate goals.

ProteinSeries 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate

This protein supplement is sourced directly from American cows and contains no artificial coloring, preservatives, or sweeteners. Packed with 28 grams of protein, this isolate only contains 120 calories and is great for anyone looking to pack on lean muscle. With only 2g of carbs and 0g fat, this isolate is surely a pure isolate supplement free from steroids or hormones.

Code GENIRON10 For 10% Off

Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate is organic, non-GMO, and gluten-free, boasting a great formula for a top protein powder. With nothing artificial added, this is a clean protein that is easier on your stomach.

Check out our review for Transparent Labs ProteinSeries 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate here.

ProteinSeries 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Concentrate

This supplement is a great protein powder for those looking to bulk up and pack on muscle mass. Since this is a concentrate, it doesn’t undergo any additional isolation process. With 24 grams of protein, 1.5 g of natural dairy fat, and 3g carbs, this protein concentrate comes in at 120 calories making this an amazing whey concentrate with no artificial additives yet still great flavors.

Code GENIRON10 For 10% Off

Transparent Labs ProteinSeries 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Concentrate is a great protein concentrate to pack on lean muscle and promote solid post-workout recovery. With 24g protein and 120 calories, this is great for bulking and adding weight.

Check out our review for Transparent Labs ProteinSeries 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Concentrate here.

Also, check out our list of the Best Protein Powder Supplements here!

Wrap Up

Protein is more than important when it comes to our bodybuilding goals. The ability to put on muscle and aid in weight loss while also supporting recovery and repair is all dependent on how much protein we intake. Whether it be a whey isolate or a whey concentrate, or one of the many other protein alternatives out there, knowing best when to take it can really help maximize your goals. Transparent Labs is a great company to consider when looking into protein powders and these supplements should definitely be on your shelf.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

*Images courtesy of Envato and Transparent Labs


  1. Wolfe, Robert R. (2000). “Protein supplements and exercise”. (source)
  2. Junior, Paulo S.; Ribeiro, Alex S.; Nabuco, Hellen C. G.; Fernandes, Rodrigo R.; Tomeleri, Crisieli M.; Cunha, Paolo M., et al. (2018). “Effects of Whey Protein Supplementation Associated With Resistance Training on Muscular Strength, Hypertrophy, and Muscle Quality in Preconditioned Older Women”. (source)
  3. Cooke, Matthew B.; Rybalka, Emma; Stathis, Christos G.; Cribb, Paul J.; Hayes, Alan (2010). “Whey protein isolate attenuates strength decline after eccentrically-induced muscle damage in healthy individuals”. (source)
  4. Pasiakos, Stefan M.; McLellan, Tom M.; Lieberman, Harris R. (2015). “The effects of protein supplements on muscle mass, strength, and aerobic and anaerobic power in healthy adults: a systematic review”. (source)
  5. Tipton, K. D.; Wolfe, R. R. (2001). “Exercise , protein metabolism, and muscle growth”. (source)
  6. Kerksick, Chad M.; Arent, Shawn; Schoenfeld, Brad J.; Stout, Jeffrey R.; Campbell, Bill; et al. (2017). “International society of sports nutrition position stand: nutrient timing”. (source)
Austin Letorney
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.