The first thing to realize is that protein shakes are intended to be supplemental to your regular whole meals — not replacements for whole meals. So if you view it that way, you should typically be consuming no more than 2-3 shakes a day on your workout days, and 1-2 (if any) protein shakes on your non-workout days.
* First thing in the morning
* Immediately following your resistance or weight training workout.
Why first thing in the morning?
Well, when you wake up, you have essentially been in a fasted state for the past seven to eight hours. That means you’ve had no protein during this time and you are at risk for becoming catabolic (meaning you’ll start to break down muscle for fuel.) By drinking a protein shake with some simple carbs (like orange juice or a banana blended in) as soon as you wake up, you can stop this muscle breakdown dead in its tracks and put yourself back in “positive nitrogen balance” — a fancy term that simply means you have more protein available for your body than what it is using for fuel or excreting.
The second key window of opportunity for drinking a protein shake is immediately following your resistance or weight training workout.
During this 30-60 minute post-workout window, your muscles are like sponges and take up nutrients — including protein — very quickly as part of the repair and recovery process. Your body also utilizes carbohydrates more efficiently during this period, due to increased insulin sensitivity, so drinking your protein shake with some simple carbs can help the body more efficient absorb amino acids and utilize them for ongoing tissue repair and growth.