Whether your fitness goal is weight loss, muscle growth, or a little of both, adequate protein intake can help you achieve it.
The question is, how many protein shakes a day should you drink?
Why take these protein-based supplements in the first place?
If you are a fitness enthusiast, it is important to understand the benefits of protein shakes and their advantages over real food.
You should also find out how much you need to put into your system.
However, before we get to the core of our discussion, let us first talk about the importance of protein in general.
- What Are the Benefits of Protein Consumption?
- What Are Protein Shakes?
- Is It Possible to Overdose on Protein?
- How to Determine Your Daily Protein Intake Target
- How Many Protein Shakes a Day Should You Take?
- What Food Sources Are Rich in Protein?
- Drink the Right Amount of Protein Shake
What Are the Benefits of Protein Consumption?
Similar to how you might closely monitor your daily calorie, salt, or sugar consumption, you should also pay attention to the amount of proteins you take.
That’s because of its many benefits, including:
Cell Synthesis and Maintenance
The protein macronutrient plays a crucial role in building and maintaining our cells. However, note that the human body does not store it.
So whatever your daily protein requirement is, you can only meet it if you consume the right levels of protein every day.
You must do this because protein is the building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, and skin. You need it to repair and build tissues.
Moreover, our blood contains a protein compound that carries and distributes oxygen throughout the body.
In short, it helps supply all the nutrients you need to survive and function properly.
Another way that protein helps our body is by facilitating the digestion of food.
A big chunk of the protein you ingest every day goes into making enzymes that help your body break down the food you eat.
Finally, protein plays a major role in regulating hormones, especially during the development stage of the cells.
The benefits of protein intake are amplified if you are a fitness buff.
That is because your muscle tissues get damaged every time you hit the gym.
It is a natural process and is nothing to be alarmed about; your body just needs complete proteins to repair these damages and help your body recover.
Once your muscles are restored, they become stronger and bigger.
Plays a Role in Weight Loss
On top of this, daily intake of the right amounts of protein can help you achieve your weight loss goals.
That is because it has a high thermic effect and tends to boost metabolism.
It helps you burn excess calories, even while you are sleeping.
Protein also does a very good job of curbing hunger, so you would not crave food as much.
The less food you eat, the easier it will be for you to hit your calorie goals more consistently.
What Are Protein Shakes?
Protein shakes are dietary supplements that contain high levels of this macronutrient.
They are usually made from eggs or milk, but some plants like soy or rice are also good sources of protein.
While high-quality protein is the main ingredient, most manufacturers add sugar, thickeners, and a long list of vitamins and minerals.
Protein shakes often come in powder form, and you can mix them with milk, water, or any of your favorite drinks.
One scoop of protein powder usually contains 10 to 20 grams of protein, although some whey concentrates have more.
Aside from the amount or grams of protein, these protein supplements also come in different flavors.
You can take your pick from strawberry, vanilla, mocha, and even chocolate.
Why Take Protein Shakes?
Why should you bother drinking protein shakes if there are many protein-rich foods?
After all, they can be more expensive than, say, eating a bunch of eggs or a big slice of meat.
One of the biggest advantages of supplements like post workout shakes is that they are very high in protein.
You would have to consume many of these food protein sources to match what you can get from one serving of plant or animal-based protein powders.
It means more time in the kitchen and dining area than you might be prepared to put in.
On the flip side, you can just dunk a scoop of chocolate protein powder into your shaker, shake it vigorously, and you’re good to go.
You do not need the best-selling, best performing protein shakers for this to work.
A simple shaker that comes free with a tub of classic whey protein products will do.
Another reason you should start learning protein shake recipes is that most of these products are easier for the body to break down and absorb.
It means you get more amino acids and grams of protein, maximizing your gains.
Finally, you get to pick from a number of different flavor combinations, which helps prevent flavor fatigue.
Is It Possible to Overdose on Protein?
It is possible to overdose on calcium and some vitamins, but you’d have to take large amounts in one sitting.
This is not a problem with either animal or plant-based protein.
Usually, your body will just excrete the excess protein or convert it into fat.
So you can supplement your daily diet with protein shakes without worrying if you have taken a lethal dose.
That said, being on an extremely high-protein diet does have some repercussions, like digestive side effects.
Also, even an average person in good health might run the risk of reduced liver function or coronary heart disease in the long run from too much protein.
Another reason it is not a good idea to rely solely on shakes and powders for protein is that you would miss out on the benefits of whole food sources.
These types of food contain micronutrients that many protein shake brands do not have.
How to Determine Your Daily Protein Intake Target
The amount of protein that the body needs varies from one person to another.
That said, there is a way to estimate how much you should be consuming based on your weight and fitness regime.
For an average person with a moderate fitness level, 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of bodyweight should be enough.
If you work out around three times a week, you would need about 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight.
Two grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is the daily protein intake target for those who go through intense training.
These would be activities like strength training, HIIT, and endurance drills.
So someone who weighs 90 kg but does no work can get by with 72 grams of protein per day.
Another person with the same weight but who works out vigorously would need 180 grams.
How Many Protein Shakes a Day Should You Take?
So how many protein shakes a day should you be drinking?
Before we answer this question, we must first look back at a few important points.
Number one: you should not replace real food with this dietary supplement.
It is, after all, a supplement and not a substitute. Besides, as mentioned above, there are nutrients that you can get only from whole foods and not from a shake.
However, drinking protein shakes is advantageous in some situations, like when you have a food intolerance or are extremely active.
Also, an extra helping of protein will enhance the results of your weight loss efforts.
Going back to the question, the first thing you need to consider is the amount of protein for every serving of your protein shake.
This would depend on what brand you are using and what type of supplement it is (isolate, concentrate, etc.)
Once you have this information, you can go back to your body weight and activity level to see how much protein you should get per day.
From there, it is just a matter of computing how many protein shakes you need to meet your protein target and fitness goals.
To illustrate, drink around four shakes per day if your target is 80 grams of protein and your shake has 20 grams of protein.
You could try fewer shakes and make up the difference by eating whole foods too.
That said, if you do not want to go through the trouble of computing your protein intake, a good rule to follow is to drink one to four shakes a day, depending on your fitness regime.
What Food Sources Are Rich in Protein?
At this point, you have a better idea of the importance of having a balanced diet.
It’s now time to discuss the types of food you should be looking to for protein.
If you want to achieve a certain physique, you should stock up on meat, dairy products, eggs, soy products, legumes, and nuts.
While some plant-based food items are also rich in protein (think fruits and vegetables), many lack at least one of the essential amino acids.
Drink the Right Amount of Protein Shake
It’s tempting to chug one protein shake after another, especially if you want to see big gains fast.
However, remember that the phrase “too much of a good thing” applies to them too.
While it is true that the side effects of excess protein are not that concerning, you would not want to see your money go down the drain.