Whey protein is a type of protein found in milk products that is quickly absorbed by your body and contains essential amino acids you need for muscle growth. Whey protein isolate is whey protein that has the lactose and fat removed from it. While this type of protein is slightly less beneficial than standard whey protein, research has shown whey protein isolate can enhance muscle growth when taken before and after a workout.
Depending on your workout goals, you may need to take more or less whey protein isolate before your exercise. According to the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois, consuming 20 to 25 g per day before or after your workout will help you with a healthy body composition and weight management. The facility recommends raising this number to 40 or 50 g if you are an athlete undergoing intense training or competition.
Recommended Daily Consumption
Many athletes and bodybuilders believe the misconception that gaining muscle requires you must eat excessive amounts of protein. This is not necessarily the case, as too much protein can be wasted in your body or become stored as fat. Katie James, a nutritionist at the University of Nebraska, states that the average adult should eat 0.8 g of protein per day per kilogram of body weight. If you are undergoing intense strength or speed training, raise your amount to 1.6 or 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight, which is equivalent to 109 to 116 g per day for a 150-lb. person. Ensure that you monitor your overall daily protein intake accurately when consuming large amounts of whey protein isolate before your workout.
The time at which you take the whey protein isolate before your workout can affect your muscle protein synthesis — the process that causes muscle growth — as much as the amount you take. A 2006 study conducted at Victoria University by Paul Cribb and Alan Hayes researched whether you receive more muscle building effects by taking whey protein and other supplements when you first wake up and before you go to bed or if you follow a pre- and post-workout supplementation schedule. The researchers found that those participants who consumed the protein powder just before and after their workouts had the greatest increases in lean muscle mass and one-repetition maximum strength at the end of 10 weeks.
According to registered dietician Douglas S. Kalman of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, research indicates that a pre- or post-workout meal that has a combination of protein, carbohydrates and health fats will best promote muscle growth. Because whey protein isolate does not have carbohydrates or fats in it, you may need to consume it before your workout with other whole foods or supplements to maximize your muscle growth.
- University of Nebraska: Nutrition--The Competitor's Edge; Katie James, MS, RD, LMNT; 2010
- "International Journal of Exercise Science"; The Effects of Pre- and Post-Exercise Whey vs. Casein Protein Consumption on Body Composition and Performance Measures in Collegiate Female Athletes; Kristin M. Dugan, et. al.; March 2010