Is it beneficial to take protein powder on rest days? Or should protein powder only be consumed on training days? We get asked this all the time here at Neat, and you’ll find there are a lot of different opinions on this topic!
To make sure we’re refuelling our muscles so they can repair after exercise (and therefore grow!), a protein shake is most commonly taken post-workout. However, this is not the only time you can supplement with a protein powder.
As you likely know, rest days are an essential part of any training plan, as they give your body the time it needs to rest and repair. On these days, you still need plenty of carbs, fats and our dear friend protein to help aid recovery. In fact, not getting enough protein on rest days can actually hinder your muscle growth and athletic performance.
Let's delve a little deeper into some of the reasons adding a shake to your rest day diet could be helpful...
Consuming Enough Protein Overall
Instead of stressing about finite details and timings, we’d recommend just looking at whether or not you’re consuming enough protein in your overall diet on rest days. Recovery occurs after you work out, therefore on rest days it’s important to ensure you're consuming enough to repair body tissues (Find out more on how much protein you should be consuming here). Of course, eating whole-food protein sources should make up the bulk of your intake, but a protein shake is perfect if you’re looking for a more convenient way to top it up, especially if you’re someone who is always on the go!
Likewise, if you struggle with a constant sweet tooth, homemade protein-based snacks, shakes or healthier desserts are all great alternatives for reaching for that tempting chocolate bar (check out our favourite healthy protein desert recipes here). You may find your sweet tooth cravings and hunger actually increases on non-training days, due to your body needing to replenish the calories you burnt off the previous day or your hunger hormones re-regulating.
Considering this, a protein shake on rest days is a great way to keep your blood sugar levels steady and will likely leave you feeling more satiated than high-sugar treats. One of our personal favourites to cure a sweet tooth? This triple chocolate shake recipe!
Fuelling Your Goals
The last thing to consider is your individual goals and how a protein supplement could help you reach them. If you’re looking to lose weight, eating a higher protein diet can help to ensure you don’t lose muscle mass whilst in a calorie deficit (e.g. eating less than your body burns). Protein helps reduce your hunger and raise your metabolism, so having a protein rich snack, such as a shake could help with this goal.
Likewise, if you’re looking to grow muscle, protein plays a vital part in this. Essentially, you need to be consuming more protein than your body is breaking down during your training sessions. If you'd like to just improve your overall wellbeing, protein shakes can also be of help! Any tissue in the body uses protein to build and repair. So, if you’re looking to improve your hair, skin, nails or even your immune system, then looking at your protein consumption is a great place to start.
Struggle to set and stick to your chosen goals? Here's how to create realistic ones that you'll actually keep to!