The purpose of a protein shake is to quickly get protein to your muscles before or after a workout because liquid is digested faster than the protein found in solid food. So, do you need a protein shake on your rest day? Keep reading to find out.
Benefits of Protein Shakes on Rest Days
There are many benefits of enjoying a protein shake on your rest days. Here’s a look at them, each of which will be examined closer as you read on.
Provides your body with essential protein, even if you aren’t exercising that day
- Helps support muscle recovery and gains
- Helps keep your protein intake consistent on a day to day basis
- Protein shakes are quickly digested and are convenient to include in your meal plan
- Instills a healthy protein intake habit
A good protein shake such as the ones we reviewed here are an easy way to be sure you’re getting adequate amounts of protein to support your workout routine. Even if you aren’t engaging in a rigorous workout on a given day, your body still needs protein.
Protein is essentially the building block of virtually every function in your body and it’s vital for healthy muscles and normal hormone production, and is important for healthy skin, hair and nails too. That means that even if you are taking a rest day, your body still needs protein.
Daily protein shake is nearly as important on rest days as on workout days since your muscles need a consistent intake of protein to maintain your progress and to support gains.
No matter what your workout goal happens to be, whether it’s to bulk up or to lose weight, your protein needs stay the same from day to day. Skimping on the protein when you aren’t exercising can slow your progress and hinder your overall health.
Many experts recommend getting the majority of your nutrients from whole food sources, so you can certainly reach your daily intake recommendations for protein via lean meats, beans, low-fat dairy foods, or eggs. However, as mentioned in the introduction, protein powder is more quickly digested, infusing your muscles with a good dose of protein before or immediately after an exercise session.
Drinking a protein shake on your days off also offers the benefit of promoting healthy muscle recovery and repair. When you work your muscles, you actually cause tiny tears and it’s when your body repairs those tears that your muscles gain in strength and size. By keeping your protein intake up on rest days, you help your body recover, which helps you reach your goals in a reasonable time frame.
Besides the quick digestion and muscle-building benefits of a protein shake, adding one to your rest days keeps you on track with your habit of including a protein shake in your routine and it’s a convenient and easy way to be sure you’re getting enough on a day to day basis.
When Not to Use Protein Shakes on Rest Days
The main reason to forgo a protein shake on your rest days is if you have already received adequate amounts of protein from your meals. For example, if you ate eggs for breakfast, a turkey sandwich for lunch, and a steak for dinner, you may not need the additional protein provided by a protein shake.
There are some caution against taking in too much protein because it can lead to nausea and diarrhea in minor cases and an excess of amino acids or ammonia in your body in extreme cases. Too much protein can also drive insulin levels too high, which can be life threatening.
Your body also needs other nutrients so taking up all the space in your stomach with protein means you may be skimping on complex carbohydrates, which provide your body with fuel it needs to work out when it isn’t a rest day, and important vitamins and minerals that support good health. Protein is important but should be balanced with other nutrients for the best results.
When To Drink a Protein Shake on a Rest Day
You probably have a routine for drinking your protein shake on a workout day – likely directly after or about 30 minutes before. However, when is a good time to drink your protein shake on your rest day?
It’s best to spread your protein intake out throughout the day, both on workout days and rest days. This is the best way to optimize muscle growth and recovery.
In that light, it makes sense to keep your routine the same on rest days, in terms of when you drink your protein shake. So, if you generally drink yours in the morning, do the same on your rest days. Likewise, if you drink yours in the afternoon or evening, stick with that routine. This regularity encourages your muscles to grow, even if it’s a day off from working them.
Healthy Consumption of Protein Shakes
As we’ve already established, too much protein can be as dangerous as getting too little. A visit with your doctor will help you determine an appropriate protein intake for your needs. In general, however, keep the following in mind:
- The minimum amount of protein you need is 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men (these numbers are for sedentary people, so your needs are likely to be higher).
- Protein intake should be between 15% and 25% of your daily calorie intake.
- In addition to your protein shakes, be sure to eat adequate amounts of lean meats, fish, beans, eggs, nuts, and low-fat dairy foods to cover your other nutrient needs.
Your rest day is just as important for reaching your goals as your workout days. A day off gives your body the chance to repair and recover and you can optimize this process by continuing to enjoy your daily protein shake. Just be sure you’re balancing its protein content with your meal plan to be sure you’re not overdoing it.