In order to gain muscle it's important that you are getting in enough energy to support muscle growth. Your body uses energy to keep your metabolism burning, for repair, in digestion etc…..what ever is left over after this can be used for muscle growth.
First of all you need to make sure that your diet is adequate otherwise you will be wasting your money on expensive protein shakes without getting the benefit. Most of us get enough protein from the foods we eat everyday without needing supplementation (whole-grains, dairy, nuts and seeds and lean meats).
Some quick tips are to make sure you eat regularly, keep your meals consistent (to make sure you're getting enough energy in to support muscle growth), include a pre- and post-workout snack containing both carbohydrates and protein, include high quality protein sources (i.e. lean meat, fish, chicken, eggs, dairy, cheese, and soy products).
In terms of supplementation, best time to take a protein powder (whey based) would be within 30mins post exercise. Look for a protein powder that provides around 20g of protein and some carbohydrates (stay away from the low carb powders). This will give you enough for repair and carbohydrates (muscle fuel) for recovery.
I hope this helps answer your question. Alternatively you may wish to consult an Accredited Practising Dieitian (APD) who can help formulate a specific plan for you. You can find one near you by logging onto www.daa.asn.au
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