Protein shakes can be a healthy and convenient addition to your diet. They can help you meet your daily protein needs, support healthy muscles, help you manage your weight and can also make for a great snack or meal replacement. But just because something is healthy in moderation, that doesn’t mean that more is better. So, how many protein shakes per day is healthy? How many should you be drinking?
Daily Protein Needs
To answer the question of how many protein shakes a day, the first you need to understand is how much total protein you need in a day.
The body needs the right balance of macronutrients — protein, fat and carbohydrates to function optimally. These nutrients are where we get our calories or energy from, but they have other roles as well.
The National Institute of Health has made recommendations for how much of each macronutrient is needed based on age and calorie needs. These generalized recommendations are called the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (AMDR) and identify a percent of calories that should come from each macronutrient.
For protein, it is recommended that it provide 10-35% of your calories per day. This means that if you need to eat about 2000 calories per day, then 200-700 of your calories should come from protein.
Since protein has four calories per gram, you would need to eat between 50-175 grams of protein a day. This is a broad range because it is a general recommendation designed to meet the needs of different people. Protein needs can vary based on your activity level, age, muscle mass and life stage.
Eating more protein than you need in a day can cause health problems, so this is where you want to be careful with how many protein shakes a day you are drinking.
How Many Protein Shakes a Day?
should you drink? Is just one shake enough or are three protein shakes a day ideal? The number of protein shakes you drink in a day will depend on two factors: your personal goals and your protein needs.
A protein shake should be added to your diet in the same way you would add any other food. Your total protein needs determine the number of shakes you need.
For example, if your goal is to eat 100 grams of protein per day and your protein shake provides 25 grams, you have 75 grams left for other high protein foods.
Or you could choose to have four protein shakes to meet your daily protein needs. The choice is yours.
The problem with only drinking protein shakes to meet your protein needs is that you are missing out on important nutrients from other foods. Eating a variety of protein sources, such as beans, chicken or fish, helps you get a wider variety of nutrients that are equally important for health.
So, even though you could have three protein shakes a day, variety is important to get other vital nutrients from food — also, it would be pretty boring to drink your calories.
How Many Scoops of Protein Powder a Day?
The protein content in a scoop of protein powder can vary depending on the product. Some protein powders have only 10 grams of protein per scoop, whereas some have 25 grams or more.
How many scoops of protein powder you use depends on your goals. A study in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that muscle synthesis peaks at about 30 grams of protein. Consuming more protein does not result in more muscle synthesis.
This means that a protein powder with more grams per scoop may not be all that beneficial, at least for building muscle. To maximize the grams in your scoop, it is best to spread your protein shakes out throughout the day, so that your muscles have a chance to use the protein.
Should You Drink a Protein Shake Every Day?
Once again, this boils down to your personal goals. If you are trying to build muscle, a protein shake after your workout is an easy and convenient way to replenish your tired muscles. If you are trying to lose weight, extra protein can increase your feeling of fullness and help you eat less. Having a protein shake every day could definitely help you meet both of those goals.
If you prefer to eat your food instead of drinking it, then use a protein shake when it is convenient for you.
There is no perfect answer to how many shakes per day works best for you. Nevertheless, protein shakes are still a great addition to any balanced diet to help you support healthy muscles and meet your daily nutrient needs.