Can You Take Methylphenidate With Whey Protein Supplements?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses if methylphenidate is safe to take with whey protein drinks.


My son is 16 and takes methylphenidate for ADHD and has started having whey supplements drinks once a day. Is this ok to have with the medication?

Asked by Jack On Mar 11, 2023

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By HelloPharmacist Staff

Published Mar 13, 2023
Last updated Mar 13, 2023

Key points

  • Whey protein doesn't necessarily interact with methylphenidate but certain formulations of methylphenidate are recommended to be taken without food.
  • Be sure to follow the directions in regard to food for your specific methylphenidate formulation.

Quick Answer

Recommendations on whether or not methylphenidate can be taken with food (including protein supplements) depend on the formulation in question. Most extended-release methylphenidate products (e.g., Concerta) can be taken with or without food, but it is important to be consistent. Immediate-release formulations are generally recommended to be taken at least 30-45 minutes before food, and this would include whey protein shakes.

Detailed Answer

Protein supplements, such as whey protein shakes, don't necessarily interact with methylphenidate and won't lower the effectiveness of the drug.

However, you don't mention in your question specifically what methylphenidate formulation you are talking about, and there are several (e.g., immediate-release, extended-release, controlled-release, etc...). There are specific recommendations in regard to whether or not these different formulations can be taken with food or without food.

Immediate-Release Methylphenidate

If the drug in question here is immediate-release methylphenidate (e.g., generic of Ritalin), it is recommended to be taken 30-45 minutes before a meal.

This recommendation is in place because food, specifically food that is high in fat, can increase the effects of the drug, potentially increasing the risk of side effects. per the prescribing information for the drug:

After a high-fat meal, both area under the curve (AUC) (by 25 %) and Cmax [maximum plasma concentrations] (by 27 %) are higher. Time to Cmax (Tmax) is faster after a high-fat meal (median Tmax: 2.5 hours) as compared to without food.

Ritalin Prescribing Information

There is little information on how protein specifically can alter the absorption of methylphenidate, but it would be prudent to follow the recommendation provided in the prescribing information to dose methylphenidate 30 to 45 minutes before any type of food.

Extended-Release Methylphenidate

Most extended-release methylphenidate formulations can be given with or without food.

Although, and this is an important point, food can still slightly affect how these methylphenidate formulations are absorbed, so it is recommended to simply be consistent with how your dose the medication. In other words, always give it with food or always give it on an empty stomach to avoid fluctuating effects.

The prescribing information for one extended-release methylphenidate product, ADHANSIA XR, states the following:

ADHANSIA XR can be taken with or without food, but take it the same way each time.
Adhansia XR Prescribing Information

So, in regard to protein shakes, just be consistent on how they are consumed when taking methylphenidate.

Final Words

Thanks so much for contacting us and I hope this helped.

The takeaway here is that protein shakes don't necessarily interact with methylphenidate, but depending on the formulation, you just need to be sure to follow the directions for the specific medication in question and be consistent.


  • Ritalin Prescribing Information, AccessFDA
  • ADHANSIA XR Prescribing Information, AccessFDA

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger, PharmD

Dr. Brian has been practicing pharmacy for over 13 years and has wide-ranging experiences in many different areas of the profession. From retail, clinical, program development, and administrative responsibilities, he's your knowledgeable and go-to source for all your pharmacy and medication-related questions! Dr. Brian Staiger also has herbalist training and educational certificates in the field of medical ethnobotany. Feel free to send him an email at! You can also connect with Dr. Brian Staiger on LinkedIn.

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