What's the best time to have protein?

By Nutritionist, Hannah Norris

At Upbeat we want to enable you to consume protein right in the moment. Whatever the time of day or activity you are doing, you can enjoy our drinks, be it our caffeinated Protein Energy drinks in the morning, or our Protein Hydration drinks in the afternoon, evening or anywhere in between.

Because the thing is, the optimal time for consuming protein is in fact spread out across the day (1).

There are various things that matter when it comes to protein intake, from your weight, your goal, age, type of training, type of protein and timing. But no matter your age, weight or goal, research shows us the two most important factors is having enough protein in general and having it spread out across the day (1).

How much protein do you need? 

So firstly, the UK government guidelines recommend 0.75g of protein per kg of body weight or around 50g for an average person. However, this was written in 1992 and a lot of research has been published since and we’d now say a range of 1.2-2.2g of protein per kg of body weight, depending on your goal and lifestyle.

A good amount for a generally active person is 1.4g/kg of body weight,

Say you’re 75kg (x1.4g) you would need 105g protein per day.

So, getting in 105g protein a day is the most important factor here.

What time should you consume protein? 

We then ideally want to spread this across the day, rather than having it all at once.

Whilst this seems doable to get say 30g in at lunch and dinner (for a non-vegetarian or vegan), it’s not always easy to have high protein breakfasts or snacks, so a protein supplement like Upbeat is a great way to get more protein at any point in the day  in an easy and convenient way.  Be it sipping through a workout whilst hydrating (let’s be honest a creamy protein shake during a class isn’t particularly enjoyable) or as a refreshing drink throughout the day or post exercise.

What’s better, pre, intra or post workout?

It’s a myth you have to have it immediately before or after. Research suggests there isn’t much difference between the three times to consume protein but ideally one of these should be met to get the best results. Ultimately, the closer the protein consumption is to the workout, the more benefits seen (e.g. body fat reduction, strength gains, less muscle soreness).  So, for example, if you’ve had protein pre- or during the workout, post workout isn’t as important.  That being said, if you train fasted or train when your last meal was over 4 hours before, having a protein drink intra/immediately post workout will mitigate muscle protein breakdown seen post workout, especially when it might not be possible to eat for at least an hour post exercise (said meal should combine protein and carbohydrates for the best results). 


So to summarise, the optimal time for protein isn’t as simple as one specific moment eg. pre/intra/post.  There are many factors that go into optimal protein intake and time is just one of them. The overarching recommendations on protein intake are to;

  1. Firstly, get ENOUGH protein
  2. Space this protein out across the day 
  3. The closer the protein consumption is to the workout, the more benefits seen. Try and get protein in 2 hours before/during or within 1 hour of exercise
  4. Ensure high quality protein to have all amino acids (Eg. Clear Whey Protein Isolate)
  5. Eat a mixture of Carbs & protein. Carbs & protein work together to help replenish muscle cells more effectivel
  6. Be active/resistance train

      My Top recommendations:

      Upbeat Protein Energy in Tropical for the pre- or intra- workout in the morning or before a lunch time session due to the caffeine in it which can help improve performance.

      Upbeat Protein Hydration in Mixed Berry or Zesty Orange for post workout or during your evening workouts, or simply as a nice refreshing drink to boost protein in the afternoon.