Should I Drink Protein Shake During Rest Days?

No matter how ambitious your fitness goals are, rest days are crucial. According to research, our body requires at least 24 hours to replace its muscle glycogen stores.

If you are not taking periodic off days, glycogen depletion is inevitable. When that happens, the body will start relying on protein to be the main source of energy for fuelling various activities instead of using the nutrient for muscle synthesis.

So, it’s clear that rest days are important for anyone to realize their fitness goals.

But for many people, the concept of non-workout days still remains a mystery. If they are not exercising, their energy requirements for the day will be lower. If that is the case, should they be consuming less nutrients?

More specifically, should they reduce their protein intake by staying away from protein shakes on non-workout days?

Let’s find out.

Can I Skip Protein Shakes on Rest Days?

Can I Skip Protein Shakes on Rest Days

No, it is not smart to skip protein shakes on rest days, as meeting your daily protein intake goals is important, irrespective of your activity level on a particular day. But if you manage to meet your protein intake requirements from whole food sources, consumption of protein powder will not be necessary.

Ultimately, your body will always require protein, as it is the building block of muscle and also essential for other activities. Drinking protein shakes is an effective and convenient method of getting the nutrients your body requires.

Getting optimal levels of protein on non-workout days allows your muscles to recover faster and accelerates muscle growth by providing amino acids needed for building new muscle tissue.

Even people with a sedentary lifestyle are advised that protein should make up about 25-30% of their total calories. That’s because your body will always require protein for some function or the other.

On rest days, much of the protein will be used for muscle synthesis and recovery. Whey protein, which is a primary ingredient in most of these powders, is shown to improve recovery after resistance training.

Similarly, studies show that high protein consumption can also reduce soreness from training.

So, protein shakes should not be skipped even on rest days as long as you are not able to meet your daily intake goals from other sources.

What Happens If You Don’t Get Enough Proteins on Rest Days?

What Happens If You Don’t Get Enough Proteins on Rest Days

There is a reason why experts have recommended a fixed daily intake of proteins for each individual.

If you do not meet that target regularly, your body will face some adverse effects.

Similarly, if you don’t get enough proteins on rest days for a long period, here’s what might happen:

Recovery Time Will Be Longer

Often, people don’t drink protein shakes on rest days as they feel that their muscles don’t need to recover from anything as there was no resistance training that day. However, that is far from the case.

According to research, recovery from exercise may take several days. For the process to be faster and more effective, your protein intake should be consistently high.

If there is a depletion in your protein level on rest days, your body won’t have the nutrients required to repair and rebuild muscle tissue. Therefore, the overall muscle repair and growth process will be considerably slower.

You are Likely to Experience DOMS

DOMS, or Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness, is the pain that you might experience a day or two after an intense workout session. This happens when your muscle tissue is undergoing a repair phase during the recovery cycle.

Many studies have shown that taking recommended amounts of protein during this period will reduce soreness and speed up the recovery process.

Without protein shakes, you are less likely to meet the recommended threshold, increasing the chances of you experiencing DOMS.

Decreased Satiety

Studies suggest that protein-rich meals (including those supplemented with a protein shake) are highly satiating.

So, if you have high amounts of protein in your body consistently, you will feel full for longer periods.

Similarly, if you do not meet your daily protein intake goals on a rest day, you are less likely to feel satisfied after your meals, leading to unhealthy binge eating or late-night snacking.

You Will Start Losing Muscle Mass

Your body requires protein to maintain muscle mass and also for growth and other functions. Without sufficient protein intake, your body will not be able to preserve your muscle mass effectively, leading to gradual loss of muscle.

Moreover, while our bodies normally don’t use protein for energy, if there is a deficiency of calories from other nutrients or from our fat stores, protein will be broken down into ketone bodies, which will then act as a source of energy to carry out other functions.

Should I Drink Protein Shake on Rest Day?

Should I Drink Protein Shake on Rest Day

Yes, you should drink protein shakes on non-workout days too, as meeting your daily protein intake goals is important regardless of your activity level.

Protein is crucial for muscle recovery, growth, and supporting overall body functions. Having an adequate amount of protein in your body on rest days will lead to faster recovery times, improved muscle growth rate, and reduced soreness.

However, while protein shakes are a convenient and easy way to meet your protein requirements, if you are able to meet your daily goals through whole food sources, drinking protein shakes on rest days may not be necessary.

Ultimately, it’s all about prioritizing consistent protein consumption to support optimal muscle health and overall well-being.

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How Much Protein Do You Need on Rest Days?

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) states that you should consume at least 0.8 – 1 gram of protein per kilogram of your body weight per day. For physically active people, the threshold is higher.

In fact, studies suggest that athletes and regular gym-goers need twice the amount of protein as a regular person if they wish to gain muscle mass.

So, for people who work out regularly, their daily protein intake requirement can be anywhere between 1.6 – 2 grams per kilogram of their body weight.

Whether or not you are working out on a particular day, your protein requirement will remain the same as per your overall body composition.

So, if you were consuming 60-80 grams of protein per day on your active days, you would have to do the same on your rest days as well. Now, you can either get these nutrients from whole foods or supplement your diet with a protein shake; that’s up to you.

If you do want to make any adjustments for the lack of activity on rest days, you can reduce your daily calorie intake instead. For example, replacing one of the three big meals with a protein shake can help you lose some weight if that is your goal.

Similarly, you can reduce your carbohydrates to some degree and compensate by drinking a protein shake. That’s because your energy requirements for the day will be low. So, carbohydrates are the most expendable nutrients for a rest day.

In any case, it’s important to keep your daily protein consumption consistent, irrespective of whether you are working out or enjoying a day off from the gym.

When to Drink Protein Shake on Rest Days?

There is no ideal time for drinking a protein shake on rest days as long as you are meeting the daily target.

Since you won’t be training at all, the debate of whether drinking protein shake as a pre-workout or post-workout supplement will be of no use.

But if you are looking for a good time, consider drinking protein shakes in the morning. That’s because it will aid your fat loss goals. Studies show that protein helps in weight loss by boosting your metabolism.

So, if you drink protein shakes in the morning, your metabolism will likely be elevated all day long.

Moreover, it might also reduce your appetite as protein consumption can decrease the levels of hunger hormones and increase the presence of appetite-inhibiting hormones like peptide-1.

Another good option is to take protein shakes right before going to bed. Research shows that protein consumption right before bed results in more effective digestion and absorption of protein by the body, allowing better maintenance of healthy muscles and tissue growth.

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Winding Up

While rest days should keep you away from the gym, they shouldn’t necessarily keep your protein shake away from you.

Irrespective of whether or not you are working out, your daily protein requirement will remain the same. If you cannot get it from other sources, drinking protein shakes on rest days is essential.