Whether it's losing excess body weight, getting toned, or building stronger muscles, your protein intake plays a vital role in achieving your fitness goals. However, there’s so much buzz surrounding protein shakes that it’s confusing to know when and how much protein to actually take for optimum muscle gain.
The big question is that Should you drink protein shakes on rest days? Let’s dive in, separate the myths from the facts and find some answers.
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Is Taking Protein Daily Bad?
Taking protein every day is good for you. In fact, consuming adequate protein daily is a must to ensure you remain healthy and strong.
There is more to protein than just muscle growth. Protein is needed for building, repairing, and maintaining all body tissues including muscles, bones, tendons, and cartilage. Your hair and nails are made up of protein. Protein is also a fuel source for your body. It is needed for the production of various hormones, neurotransmitters, and enzymes.
You should ensure that your protein intake stays within the recommended limits for your age and activity levels. The Recommended Daily Allowance of Protein is 0.8 gms/kg of body weight for a sedentary adult aged between 19-50 years. Athletes and bodybuilders need more protein. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level for protein is about 3.5 gms/kg body weight/day. This is the maximum daily protein intake that is unlikely to cause any adverse health effects. Excessive intake of protein over the long term can lead to health complications such as increased stress on the kidneys, which in turn, can cause kidney damage.
As long as you do not exceed your daily protein requirements, there is no harm in taking protein on a daily basis.
Drink Protein Shakes on Rest Days or Not?
Should you drink protein on rest days? Well, the answer depends on your fitness goals and calorie requirements.
- Yes, you can drink protein shakes on rest days. Even if you are not in the gym, your muscles need protein as they are in recovery mode. Protein shakes are an easy way to ensure you meet your daily protein needs.
- No, you don’t need to drink protein shakes on rest days. The choice is yours. Considering that your protein requirements are lower than on your workout days, you can also skip the protein shakes and stick to balanced meals that meet your daily nutrient requirements.
8 Scientific Reasons for Considering Protein Shakes on Rest Days
There are several scientific reasons to consider consuming protein shakes on rest days:
- Muscle Recovery and Repair: Taking protein shakes on rest days between your workout days provides a convenient and easy-to-digest source of protein to repair damaged muscle fibers.
- Muscle Protein Synthesis: Protein is vital for muscle protein synthesis, the process by which your body builds new muscle tissue. Consuming protein on rest days provides your body with the necessary amino acids for supporting muscle protein synthesis.
- Prevents muscle breakdown: When muscle breakdown exceeds muscle protein synthesis your body may enter a catabolic state. Supplementing with protein on your rest days can help maintain your hard-earned muscle gains by providing them with a continuous supply of amino acids, thus reducing the risk of muscle loss.
- Complete protein sources: Most protein shakes are formulated to contain all 9 essential amino acids making this an easy way to get all the protein you need.
- Increases satiety: Protein has a satiating effect. This means protein-rich drinks or meals can keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer periods. Thus consuming protein shakes on rest days can help reduce cravings and the temptation to indulge in unhealthy food choices.
- Increases metabolism: Protein has a higher thermic effect compared to other macronutrients. This means your body is able to burn more calories during digestion. This increases your metabolic rate.
- Promotes weight loss: The satiety experienced from drinking protein shakes and the boost in metabolism both help support weight management efforts and prevent unwanted weight gain.
- Convenience: Protein shakes are an easy and convenient way to meet your protein needs. This is especially true for those with higher protein requirements, such as bodybuilders and athletes.
Is it Good for Bodybuilding Purposes?
Drinking protein shakes on rest days takes on more importance if bodybuilding and muscle gain are your fitness goals. Muscle growth does not happen during your workout. It actually takes place during recovery or rest days.
When your muscles are pushed to their limits, muscle damage occurs. Microscopic tears develop in the muscle fibers. After such intense workout sessions, your muscles will need 24 to 48 hours to repair and recover. Offering your muscles a constant supply of the essential amino acids supports muscle protein synthesis and creates the ideal environment for muscle growth.
What Happens if You Skip Protein for a Day?
Skipping protein for a day or two may not have much impact. But if this continues, symptoms of protein deficiency will appear.
Inadequate protein intake over the long term can lead to muscle loss and impaired immune function.
Considering that protein is involved in multiple roles such as tissue repair, enzymatic processes, and hormone production, a deficiency of protein can significantly affect your overall health and well-being, negatively.
How Much Protein on Non-Workout Days?
The recommended protein intake for sedentary individuals is about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This differs depending on age and activity levels.
But did you know that “the RDA is an estimate of the lowest dietary protein intake level that meets the protein requirement of healthy individuals”? So, if you have a more active lifestyle, you will need more protein. Athletes and bodybuilders should also take more protein, ranging from 1.2 to 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight. On rest days, you can aim for the lower end of this range.
Which Protein Powder is Best?
There are numerous factors to take into consideration while choosing the protein powder that best suits your needs, such as your fitness goals, dietary restrictions, and preferences. While most popular protein powders are sourced from whey you can also try out hemp protein, soy protein, and plant-based protein blends, like the powerful combination of pea and rice protein.
Whey protein has a high bioavailability and fast absorption rate. It has high amounts of BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) which stimulate muscle protein synthesis. But, if you are a vegan or have lactose intolerance, plant-based protein powders such as pea protein, soy protein, or hemp protein are good options. These taste delicious when mixed with coffee. You can also try protein coffee that has a potent combination of Protein and Caffeine that energizes you, helps build muscle, and promotes weight loss.
When selecting a protein powder, some other factors to keep in mind are its taste, texture, and ingredient quality.
Whether or not to consume protein shakes on rest days is a personal choice. A wholesome diet with protein-rich foods can help you meet your protein needs for the day. However, a protein shake is an easy and convenient way to get all the essential amino acids needed for active recovery and muscle protein synthesis.
Make sure to choose a protein powder that suits your dietary restrictions, preferences, and fitness goals. Keep in mind that protein shakes are meant to complement a balanced diet, not replace whole-food protein sources entirely. You can consult a dietitian if you need more personalized advice.