Drinking Protein Shakes on Rest Days

Protein shakes are more popular than ever. It was not that long ago that protein shakes were consumed by bodybuilders and the occasional athlete. Today, protein shakes are enjoyed by men and women, young and old.

Most protein shakes are taken before or after a workout, but what about rest days? Will drinking a protein shake on rest days help you to achieve your goals? This article will investigate.

Benefits of Protein Shakes

Protein shakes are powders that can come from either a plant-based or animal-based source. They are mixed with water, sometimes milk (dairy or non-dairy) and they can also be turned into smoothies or baked goods.

There are many benefits to consuming protein shakes, some of them are health-related, while others are more practical. Here is a quick rundown of some benefits of having protein shakes:

  • Easy to make – You can make a protein shake in under 30 seconds. They require no fancy cooking equipment or preparation. Just add a liquid of your choice, chuck in one or two scoops of powder, shake vigorously in a protein shaker, and drink.
  • Versatile – Unless you have chosen a particularly strong flavoured protein shake, they are incredibly versatile. They can be served normally, with milk, as a smoothie, baked, mixed into yoghurt, or even dusted on popcorn.
  • Low cost per serving – Compared to many high-protein foods, a protein shake can work out incredibly cheap. Particularly if you can find a deal with a low-cost company.
  • High protein to calorie ratio – Protein shakes have one of the highest protein to calorie ratios of any food. This is very useful if you are trying to build muscle without putting on too much body fat, or if you are trying to lose weight.
  • Make it easy to hit protein goals – If you are looking to build muscle, then your protein intake per day is going to be very high. This can be hard to do with food alone. Protein shakes, thanks to their low cost, high protein-to-calorie ratio, and ability to be prepared quickly, are an ideal option.
  • Can help to fuel muscle – Protein synthesis, the process where muscle is repaired and regrown, requires dietary protein to perform optimally. A protein shake is ideal for this, and they have been shown repeatedly to boost muscle mass and improve muscle recovery [1].
  • Can increase satiety – Protein is highly satiating; this means that it can make you feel full after a meal. A satiating meal will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Protein shakes are almost 100% protein, which makes them very satiating. This makes them great for dieting, and they can help with weight loss [2].

Will Drinking a Protein Shake on Rest Days Help Me Achieve My Goals?

The first question that you should ask anyone is what their goals are. Are you trying to lose weight? Are you attempting to build muscle? Or are you focused on improving your diet? Here are the answers to the three most common goals.

Protein Shakes for Weight Loss

The idea that adding a 200+ calorie shake to your diet can help you to lose weight may seem crazy, but there is a lot of evidence that consuming protein shakes can help you to consume fewer calories during the day. This is because the high protein content can help you to feel more full, reducing your hunger between meals, and often leading to smaller portion selection when it comes to your main meal.

Will a protein shake help with this goal? Yes.

Protein Shakes for Building Muscle

Unsurprisingly, protein shakes are an ideal choice for building muscle, this is the most common reason why people buy protein shakes. Muscles are fuelled by a combination of carbohydrates and protein, but when it comes to training, protein is crucial. A protein shake consumed after a workout can fuel protein synthesis allowing your muscles to grow and recover after a workout.

Will a protein shake help with this goal? Yes,

Protein Shakes for Health

Protein shakes aren’t directly healthy, they rarely contain any micronutrients. But, as they can help you to lose weight and build muscle they can be instrumental in reducing your risk of obesity, diabetes, CVD, and hypertension. This is an indirect way to improve your health but should be noted.

Will a protein shake help with this goal? Not directly, but it could contribute over time.

What are Rest Days?

A rest day is a day off from training. If you train four times per week, then you have four training days and three rest days. There is a misconception that rest days should involve no real activities, but most people can handle low to medium intensity exercises such as walking, housework, or performing a labour intensive job (such as construction).

Can You Drink Protein Shakes on Your Rest Days?

Yes, in fact it is a good idea to do so. While it is important to consume more protein around your workouts, your overall protein intake for the week or the month is more important than protein intake for a specific day.

Rest days are often used for recovery from intense exercise. Your body is repairing damaged muscle fibres and helping to rebuild them stronger than ever. For this, it requires protein. You can get that protein from food, or you can have a protein shake (or both).

Final Thoughts

If you want to build muscle or lose weight, then a protein shake can be helpful. It can make it easier for you to hit your protein targets and repair and rebuild damaged muscle fibres during a rest day. You don’t need a protein shake for this, any high-protein snacks and meals will do. But for many people, a protein shake is a convenient and effective way to meet your targets.


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6142015/
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2289832/