Protein shakes are popular – but are they that useful? Should you take protein shakes if you’re not working out?

Today we’re going to briefly look at the ingredients and benefits of protein shakes, whether you should use them when you’re not working out, and the most important questions about protein shake use. Let’s get started with why they’re popular and what they offer you.

Protein Shake Use

Protein shakes are useful for athletes because they support better recovery and support a wide range of important processes. We all have these natural health processes that require protein – but how useful are protein shakes and supplements without working out?

The main use of a protein shake as a performance enhancer and source of muscle growth as well as recovery might over shadow the other benefits. While these supplements are typically associated with bodybuilders, there’s a lot of nuance to nutritional supplementation. 

As a staple in the diet of fitness enthusiasts, bodybuilders, and Olympians, protein shakes have a wide appeal. Despite their often-confused reputation, they’re beneficial to everyone: we all have protein-rich tissues that need support!

Protein Shake Popularity: It Sells Because It Works!

The popularity of protein shakes in all walks of life speaks to the convenience and health benefits that they offer. Whatever your goals, your methods, or your starting point, there are things we all need to improve – protein intake, vitamins and minerals, and sleep quality to name a few.

Protein shakes are a way that we can easily add protein to the diet, which can have a wide range of benefits (we’ll get to those in a minute!). These benefits aren’t limited to just performance, but health, wellbeing, strength and long-term quality-of-life.


A Look At The Youthful Living Vegan Protein powder | Review


Protein Shake Ingredients – How Can They Benefit You?

The main and obvious ingredient in protein shakes is protein. The supplement is built around an increased protein content and makes it easier to get your required protein, since you’re going to be drinking it, making it easier and more convenient to consume.

Protein rich foods can also not be the easiest to cook and prep. Especially with plant foods, the cooking process of beans and other foods can be prohibitive during busy days, when dealing with family, work, studies, or any other time obligations.

Protein shakes are not only rich in protein, ideally from a blend of plant extracts but also a convenient choice. They’ve become so popular because they’re easy to use, rich in protein, and can be combined with a wide range of ingredients in a blender to make nutrient dense smoothies.

The protein itself may come from a variety of sources – pea, hemp, soy, and rice are the most common forms of plant protein powders. 

Benefits of Higher Protein Diets

The main benefits of a protein supplement or having a slightly higher protein diet may include:

(But remember, increasing your protein content slightly is fine, but you can also more on to the other extreme of having TOO much protein. Something to be aware of and ensure we do not try to just add and add more and more protein when we do not need it).

  • Muscle recovery and growth: Protein improves the recovery and growth of muscle mass, whether you’re working out or not.
  • Improved metabolic health: Protein is an important regulator of your metabolism, maintaining hormone-metabolic wellbeing and controlling body composition change.
  • Easier, better fat loss: Fat loss is easier with higher protein diets, as well as being higher quality, less muscle lost, and more fat burned.
  • Supports bone and tendon health: Non-muscle tissues like bone, ligament, and tendon depend on healthy intake of protein.
  • Filling and thermic effect: Protein is filling and reduces hunger, while the thermic effect makes it very calorie-efficient for better health, wellbeing, and dietary control.
  • Performance outcomes: Almost all performance outcomes for exercise and activity are better in higher-protein diets, making for great all-round support.
  • Co-ingestion benefits: Protein that is co-ingested with carbohydrates have better energy-replenishing effects, especially after workouts.


Organic Life Rice Protein Powder Review


Secondary Ingredients: Can Protein Powder Support Better Results?

Some protein powder products may include additional, secondary ingredients in order to improve performance in any of the prior benefits. These may be BCAA supplementation to improve muscle-building and muscle-protection.

It could be a digestive enzyme and electrolyte blend, which improve the function of protein powder in the body and support muscle health (respectively). It could be the addition of piperine to improve absorption through the gut or similarly, the absorptive benefits of Astragalus and/or ginseng.

These secondary benefits are commonplace and provide a wide range of benefit-boosts (synergistic effects). Others simply add new benefits, adding turmeric to a protein powder can boost the health effects and support digestive wellbeing, independently of protein intake. 

These are useful but not as effective since they can easily feel irrelevant in the supplement itself. Make sure your secondary ingredients offer benefits you actually care about or you may be paying for things you don’t need or want.

Should you take a protein shake without working out?

Yes, if you’re using protein supplements, you should aim to use them consistently. The dosage per day is not super important, but the average protein intake of your diet is more important. You should aim to use a protein shake daily to maintain consistently high protein levels, more so if you struggle to meet your protein requirements with food alone.

This gives your body all the best benefits mentioned above, where consistency is very important. This is especially important in hormonal, metabolic, and tissue health changes. For muscle growth and recovery, this is also a great way to maintain health and performance.

The timeline for muscular recovery and growth is around 1-4 days (depending on exercise) and you may not be properly recovered on your rest days. This means that protein intake should remain higher across that whole 1-4 day period. Just improving your average daily intake is the best way to get the best results from your protein.


A few Of The Most Common Supplementation Questions ANSWERED!


Protein Powder and Diet FAQ

Can you drink protein shakes every day?

Yes, you can use protein shakes every day if you need them to improve your total protein intake. It’s a healthy and effective way to support better total nutrition. The recovery and growth of muscles, for example, is around 36-48 hours after exercise or intense activity.

Equally, you’ll not take in a huge amount of calories through protein shake intake. This means there’s no real downside to drinking protein shakes daily, while there may be significant benefits for the things we’ve mentioned already: metabolism, recovery, dietary control, and hormonal function.

Can You Drink Protein Shakes On Rest Days?

Yes you can and should drink protein shakes on rest days. The most important factor for muscle growth and other health factors is consistent protein availability. The daily average is the most important factor and individual, day to day changes in activity level shouldn’t dictate your protein intake.

While you may change your carbs up and down based on short-term activity levels, protein is more consistent. Higher protein diets should be rich in protein every day. If you’re using protein shakes for this purpose, you can use them everyday to get the best health and performance benefits.

How Much Protein When Not Working Out?

You should consume the same amount of protein every day when you’re not working out, rest days are no exception. The benefits are medium-term, while the body always needs protein for things like bone health, muscle protein turnover, and maintaining a healthy metabolism.

Consistent protein levels from day to day are the most scientifically effective way to maintain these health benefits. They are based on protein availability over time. While the short-term benefits of protein intake are useful, the best results come from consistently high intake!

Best Time To Drink Protein?

The best time to drink your protein will typically be after exercise or intense activity. You don’t have to go to the gym to become nutrient-sensitive for protein, just anything that has challenged your tissues, especially prolonged or intense movement.

Plant-based proteins also have a longer average absorption speed and sustained release than their whey counterparts. For example, a good plant protein blend has a similar peak to whey protein, but sustains longer into the future to maintain high protein levels over time. 


A Look At The Youthful Living Vegan Protein powder | Review



You should drink a protein shake even if you’re not working out on that day. Rest day protein intake is proven to be an effective way to maintain long-term results from exercise, while non-exercising individuals still get all the same benefits from the use of protein powder on a daily basis.

The best benefits, the increase in metabolic rate and regulation, the improvements to digestive speed, and the recovery benefits to tissues, are not timing-specific. While you may get more benefits from the use of protein shakes with exercise, you’ll be able to make progress and improve health with nutrition alone.

This is especially true when losing weight. Even without working out, higher protein intake can drastically improve a weight loss diet. Higher protein diets improve fat loss, support muscle maintenance, and prevent the decline of important energy-regulating hormones during weight loss!


Author bio

Rohan Arora is a personal trainer and sports nutritionist, and has been actively involved in the fitness community for over 8 years. Together with his team at GainingTactics, he has helped hundreds of hardgainers gain healthy weight and live a healthy lifestyle.


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