What Can You Eat with a Protein Shake?

In this brief article, we will address the query “What Can You Eat with a Protein Shake?” Additionally, we will present relevant information such as what is the impact of different foods in the absorption of proteins; finally, we present a brief guide on when you should take your protein shake.

What Can You Eat with a Protein Shake?

You can eat healthy sources of protein and/or carbohydrates with your protein shake. For example, fruits and milk are excellent options to include in your protein shake (1).

Proteins are normally associated with the only nutrient needed for muscle recovery. However, despite proteins being crucial, they are not the only nutrient required for muscle repair and muscle hypertrophy (1,2).

When you exercise, your muscles use all your glycogen stores, which are made from carbohydrates; the first thing your body will do is to replenish all glycogen storage, prior to muscle repair (2).

Therefore, if you add some simple sugars to your protein shake, your body will use those sugars to fill your glycogen, and the amino acids from the protein shake will be focused on muscle recovery and hypertrophy (1).

Why Fruits and Protein Shake are a good Pair?

Fruits are a good pair for a protein shake because fruits have simple sugars like glucose, fructose, and sucrose. Sugars (simple carbohydrates) are rapidly absorbed by the body and are available to refuel your glycogen stores (1).

Moreover, an exhaustive exercise can produce Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), known as oxidant molecules (3).

Reactive Oxygen Species can cause negative effects on your muscles like: diminished blood flow, reduced vasodilation, reduced muscle contractile force; all these effects can cause a reduction of your performance, either you are an athlete or someone who does gym daily (3).

Fruits are an excellent source of antioxidant molecules such as vitamin C, and polyphenols. Polyphenols have been found as a potent action against Reactive Oxygen Species, especially polyphenols from berries, grapes, and pomegranate (3).

Why Dairy Products and Protein Shake are a Good Pair?

Dairy products like milk and Greek yogurt are a good pair with protein shakes because they contain high-protein quality and sugars (mainly lactose) (2,4).

The combination of high-quality proteins and simple sugars are splendid for muscle recovery. As stated before, the sugars are used for replenishing glycogen storage and the proteins can be used mainly for muscle repair (1,2).

In fact, James et al. (4) found that milk by itself is a good recovery drink after exercise; so you can obtain good results from combining your protein shake with milk.

Why Whole-grains, Nuts, and Healthy Fats are not a good pair for your Protein Shakes?

Whole-grains, nuts, and healthy fats like avocado or olive oil are not a good pair for your protein shakes because they are sources of dietary fiber and fats (5,6). 

Dietary fiber and fats can reduce the digestibility and, therefore, the absorption of amino acids. It is important that essential amino acids like Leucine are available as much as possible. Essential amino acids are critical for muscle repair because they are the building blocks for new tissues like muscle fibers (5,6,2).

You can consume (and you should consume) these foods in your principal meals, but not at the same time of your protein shake (7).

What is the Best Time to Eat a Protein Shake?

The best time to eat your protein shake is within 45 minutes after your workout. This 45-minute period is known as the anabolic window, where your muscles are more sensitive to all nutrients you eat (8).

Therefore, this is the best time to feed your muscles with the best nutrients!

How to Incorporate a Protein Shake in a Healthy Diet?

The best way to incorporate a protein shake in a healthy diet is to use it just as a supplement for recovery after exercise. You should follow a complete and healthy diet, including all food groups if possible: fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole-grains, lean meats, and eggs (7).

You can consult a nutrition specialist to adjust your meal plan, including a protein shake for recovery after your workout.


In this brief article, we addressed the query “What Can You Eat with a Protein Shake?” Additionally, we presented relevant information such as what is the impact of different foods in the absorption of proteins; finally, we presented a brief guide on when you should take your protein shake.


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  1. Huecker M, Sarav M, Pearlman M, Laster J. Protein supplementation in sport: Source, timing, and intended benefits. Curr Nutr Rep, 2019;8(4):382–96.
  1. Bowtell J, Kelly V. Fruit-derived polyphenol supplementation for athlete recovery and performance. Sports Med, 2019;49(Suppl 1):3–23. 
  1. James LJ, Stevenson EJ, Rumbold PLS, Hulston CJ. Cow’s milk as a post-exercise recovery drink: implications for performance and health. EJSS, 2019;19(1):40–8.
  1. Mulet-Cabero A-I, Torcello-Gómez A, Saha S, Mackie AR, Wilde PJ, Brodkorb A. Impact of caseins and whey proteins ratio and lipid content on in vitro digestion and ex vivo absorption. Food Chem, 2020;319(126514):126514.
  1. Chen M, Guo L, Nsor-Atindana J, Goff HD, Zhang W, Zhong F. The effect of viscous soluble dietary fiber on nutrient digestion and metabolic responses Ⅱ: In vivo digestion process. Food Hydrocoll, 2020;107(105908):105908.
  1. Cena H, Calder PC. Defining a healthy diet: Evidence for the role of contemporary dietary patterns in health and disease. Nutrients, 2020;12(2):334.
  1. Arent SM, Cintineo HP, McFadden BA, Chandler AJ, Arent MA. Nutrient timing: A garage door of opportunity? Nutrients, 2020;12(7):1948.

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