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Should You Drink Protein Shakes On Non-Workout Days? The Truth Unveiled

Updated: Jan 3

Should You Drink Protein Shakes On Non-Workout Days

You hit the gym hard. Iron clanging, muscles screaming, endorphins pumping. You refuel with a well-deserved protein shake, feeling the satisfaction of recovery washing over you. But what about the rest days? Should you reach for that shaker again or give your body a protein break?


Protein is a crucial supplement for anyone who regularly works out and strives for weight loss. This is vital for building muscle, tissue repair, and recovery, and can help to reduce muscle soreness and fatigue. 


The question of drinking protein shakes on non-workout days has puzzled gym-goers for years. Myths and misinformation abound, leaving many wondering what's best for their fitness goals.


Fear not, fellow fitness enthusiasts! We're here to decipher the protein shake on rest days dilemma and help you reload your recovery for optimal results.


First, let's bust some myths:


  • Myth #1: Protein shakes will make you gain weight on rest days. False! Weight gain boils down to simple math: calories in vs. calories out. Unless you consume more calories than you burn (including those from your shake), you won't gain weight, regardless of protein intake.


  • Myth #2Protein shakes are only for post-workout recovery. Not true! While protein plays a crucial role in muscle repair after exercise, its benefits extend beyond the gym. Protein is essential for building and maintaining lean muscle mass, supporting bone health, boosting metabolism, and even satiating hunger.

Benefits Of Protein Shakes


Enhance Muscle Mass


Enhance Muscle Mass with protein shakes

Protein is an essential macronutrient that helps build and repair muscle tissue. It is also necessary for many other crucial bodily functions, including hormone production, enzyme activity, and fluid balance. 


What Research Says:


  • In 2015, a study published by the National Library of Medicine found that protein supplements may increase muscle mass and performance when training is sufficiently frequent, intensive, or long-lasting and dietary intake is correctly aligned. 

  • Another research published by the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) in 2014 categorically concluded and proved that "acute benefits of protein supplementation on post-exercise muscle anabolism, which, in theory, may facilitate the recovery of muscle function and performance."


When you exercise, your muscles use more energy and require more protein to maintain and repair themselves. This is why it's essential to consume enough protein if you want to build muscle mass. 


There are many different types of protein, but animal-based proteins tend to be the most effective for building muscle. Foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy are all excellent protein sources. If you're vegetarian or vegan, you can get protein from plant-based sources like beans, lentils, quinoa, and tofu.


Improve Strength


Should You Drink Protein Shakes On Non-Workout Days

The protein shakes can help prevent muscle weakness and fatigue and improve your ability to lift heavy things by keeping your muscles strong and healthy. Muscle weakness and fatigue can happen when you don't have enough protein in your diet, but it can also occur due to overtraining.


study published in the Indian Journal of Nutrition regarding the Effect of Natural Protein Intake on Power Athletes' Strength and Body Composition. 


A study was made on 40 adult power athletes as subjects of endurance sports, wherein 20 subjects were given a natural protein diet. The subjects received two months of resistance training programs, and their strength was measured. The study concluded that a raw protein diet would significantly affect the stability of power athletes. 


Improved Brain Function 


Should You Drink Protein Shakes On Non-Workout Days

A protein shake can help improve brain function when consumed regularly, according to research published in "The Journal of Nutrition." Protein supplementation has been shown to help improve cognitive function in older adults and people with Alzheimer's, among other conditions. The study found that those who supplemented their diets with 20 grams or more of protein per day showed improved performance on memory and thinking tests, particularly when compared to those who consumed less protein.


Improved Bone Health


Improved Bone Health

Most of your extracellular matrix is composed of collagen3, a protein. This framework of collagen enables bone to be formed. When calcium hardens this framework, it adds strength to it. Collagen and calcium make your bones robust and flexible enough to handle stress.


Research published in Health Journal "Nutrition Today" stated that protein makes up approximately 50% of the bone structure and about one-third of its mass. 


It helps improve bone health by increasing the amount of calcium and other minerals absorbed from your food. Hence, dietary protein is a crucial nutrient for bone health across the lifespan. Additionally, protein shakes can help improve bone density by helping form new bone tissue. 


Do Protein Shakes Make You Gain Weight?


Understand the Myth Behind Weight Gain


There are numerous myths surrounding us about fat gain and loss. Your weight is a delicate balancing act, but the equation is straightforward. You gain weight if you consume more calories than you burn. 


In other words, you are more likely to gain weight if you consume more calories than your basal metabolic rate, activity energy expenditure, and thermic effect of food required. Keep in mind that the body stores extra calories as fat. Alternatively, you can lose weight by eating less and burning more calories through physical activity.


Maintain Your Caloric Balance


Protein is one nutrient that is sometimes misunderstood. Because of its association with building muscle, many believe that consuming whey protein powder or supplements in other forms will make them gain weight.


The truth is, protein alone – or any other specific type of macronutrient, including fats and carbs – will not make you overweight. You only gain weight by consuming more calories than you burn. In the context of gaining weight, what you drink doesn't matter to create a caloric surplus. It's always best to get your energy from nutrient-dense calories that will keep you up for your day.


Best Practices


While counting the benefits of protein shakes, it is worth mentioning that protein powders are unlikely to contribute to weight gain, but how you consume them matters. 


For instance, if you increase your calorie intake by adding protein powder to your diet without altering the other portions of your meals, you potentially put on pounds. Of course, some people supplement their diet with protein powder to gain weight, but this is something to keep in mind if you're attempting to shed pounds.


Should You Drink Protein Shakes On Non-Workout Days?


When achieving optimal fitness, it's important to consider whether or not to consume protein shakes on rest days. While protein shakes are known for their many benefits, it's crucial to carefully examine the potential side effects that could occur if they are not consumed mindfully.


We aim to provide clarity on the use of protein shakes during rest days, stressing the importance of being mindful of how they are consumed.


Upset Stomach and Bloating


Protein powder without exercise can upset your stomach and cause gas and bloating if not consumed in conjunction with a workout. When you consume protein shakes without working out, the protein and other nutrients will be rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream. 


This can cause your stomach to empty quickly, create gas, and cause bloating. By working out after consuming a protein shake, you will help to speed up the digestion process and reduce the likelihood of experiencing these adverse side effects.


Potential Kidney Problems


Protein can create kidney problems in a few ways. First, excess protein can increase the workload on the kidneys and lead to increased levels of creatinine in the blood. This build-up can cause mild to moderate kidney failure. Second, protein can directly damage the kidneys by interrupting their function. 


This can occur when the protein is not broken down properly by the kidneys, leading to accumulation and damage. Finally, protein can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria in the kidneys, leading to inflammation and damage. In all cases, regular exercise is essential for protecting the kidneys from damage.


Unhealthy Spike in Blood Glucose Level


Studies to resolve "Can you drink protein shakes without working out?" have shown that protein shakes without a workout can spike blood glucose levels. This is because the body breaks down the protein in the shake to create glucose, which is then absorbed into the bloodstream. If you want to avoid high blood sugar levels, consuming protein with the workout is best.


Greater Risk for Dehydration


Protein shakes without a workout can dehydrate you because they don't provide enough fluids. When you consume a protein shake, your body needs to break down the protein to get the amino acids it needs. This process requires water, which can lead to dehydration. If you're not drinking enough fluids throughout the day, your body will pull water from your muscles, leading to muscle weakness and fatigue.


Decrease in Bone Density or Osteoporosis


A daily workout strengthens your bones and enhances muscle mass with protein shakes. However, taking protein shakes without having a workout may affect your bone density. 


According to a study published in "The Journal of Nutrition" in 2009, consuming protein shakes regularly may decrease bone density. The study participants who drank protein shakes daily had a significantly lower bone mineral density than those who didn't drink protein shakes. 


Additionally, a study published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" 2007 found that women who consumed more than 20 grams of protein per day had a decreased risk of developing osteoporosis. However, it is strongly recommended to make your exercise routine and consume enough protein shakes regularly to get increased bone density. 


Negative Impact on Sleep


Drinking protein powder without working out can hurt sleep. Protein shakes are a quick and easy way to get the recommended amount of protein, but they offer a different level of physical activity than a workout. When combined with a busy lifestyle, protein shakes can lead to poor sleep quality.


Protein Shakes vs Natural Protein: Which Impact the Best on Workout


While protein shakes and natural proteins or plant-based proteins can benefit a workout, protein shakes are generally considered the more advantageous option. 


It provides a quick and easy way to increase protein intake, which can help boost muscle growth and recovery. Additionally, protein shakes are often lower in calories and more balanced in nutrients than many other popular sports supplements.


However, there are a few caveats to consider when choosing between protein shakes and natural proteins. First, protein shakes are often high in sugar and calories, which can lead to weight gain over time. 


Second, natural proteins are typically more filling so that they may provide less energy boost during a workout. Finally, some individuals find that they do not respond as well to natural proteins due to their higher protein content. In these cases, protein shakes may be a better meal replacement.


Ultimately, it is essential to individualize their protein intake based on their goals and preferences. Both protein shakes and natural proteins can be a valuable part of a healthy diet and active lifestyle, but choosing the best option is essential.


Conclusion


As we conclude the discussion on whether to incorporate protein shakes on non-workout days, it's essential to recognize the significance of essential amino acids in meeting long-term protein requirements. A high-protein diet, ideally around 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, is crucial for supporting muscle groups and promoting overall health. Integrating protein-rich foods like peanut butter into your dietary routine contributes to this balance.


In the pursuit of fat loss and the well-being of healthy adults, understanding the bottom line—that protein intake plays a pivotal role in sustaining muscle health and reaping health benefits—is paramount. So, whether on workout or rest days, striking the right balance in protein consumption becomes an integral component of your journey towards long-term wellness.


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