Protein is one of the three macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat) which make it up to our total calories we are consuming. There are a lot of different sources from which you can get your required amount of protein and one of these sources are protein shakes. So, how many protein shakes a day should I consume? Is there a lower or an upper limit and what else should I keep in mind? These and other questions will be answered in this protein shakes guide!
Before we answer the question of how many protein shakes a day you should consume, let’s check what protein shakes are and what you have to know about them.
But first, we will talk about protein in general.
What Is Protein And Why Do We Need It?
Protein is one of the three macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat) which make it up to our total calories we are consuming. Our muscles are stressed in several different ways each and every day which make them break down (known as “muscle protein breakdown”) and building back up (known as “muscle protein synthesis”).
Performing weight training is one of the most common ways to increase the process of muscle protein breakdown and muscle protein synthesis but therefore our body needs protein to ensure muscle protein synthesis. While trying to lose weight, we need a high amount of protein to prevent muscle protein breakdown.
Additionally, consuming protein will slow down our digestion, keeping us full and satisfied for a longer time, which supports our weight loss goals.
Some sources of protein are the following:
- Lean Beef
- Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
- Whey Protein
How Much Protein Do We Need Each Day?
This is a question that depends on each individual but there is a general guideline which you want to follow to consume enough protein:
- 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight
- Example: Jim weighs 170 pounds so he will need a total of 170 grams of protein each day
If you are not doing any sports like weight training or bodybuilding, then you will need much lower amounts of protein but for athletes this is the recommended number which gives your body enough protein to fulfill all tasks.
The question of how many protein shakes a day should make up to the total protein you consume will be answered a bit later in this guide.
How Much Protein Are You Consuming Right Now?
Most of the people don’t really know how much protein they’re consuming. It may be 100 grams per day or even 250 grams per day. Or it’s changing from day to day.
The thing is, you have to know exactly how much protein you’re consuming if you’re trying to lose weight or build muscle because you have to know how to adjust your diet according to your goals.
So, how do you figure this out?
The simple answer is:
By tracking everything you consume, from foods to drinks and everything else.
Create your free account, track everything you are consuming for a week or so and check the results after that week. Both services have a lot of foods in their database which makes it easy for you to track correctly. And it will only take a few minutes per day to do that.
Don’t lie to yourself. If you just ate that chocolate bar, go and track it. If you just consumed that bottle of juice, go and track it. It’s really important to track everything you are consuming because this is the only way you get real results of what you are consuming right now!
Once you’ve done this for a few days, you have an understanding of your total calories and macros (protein, carbs, fat) you are currently consuming per day.
Do you already know how many calories you need to consume each day?
If not, check our calculator here which lets you calculate the exact calories you need to consume on a daily basis.
How To Evaluate My Results?
So, now you have tracked your foods and drinks for a few days, and you know how many calories and macros you are consuming each day.
How do you evaluate these results? What can they tell you?
Let’s keep it simple and stick to protein for now. We said you should aim for 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. You now your weight so you know how much protein you need. If that number you consumed each day is 50% higher than your daily goal, you should reduce your protein intake and you don’t need any protein shakes.
But if that number you are consuming is lower than your daily goal, you should increase your daily protein intake.
So, how many protein shakes a day do you need? Well, we are not finally ready for the answer yet. 😉
How Much Protein Can Our Body Absorb?
Our body is constantly performing the process of muscle protein breakdown and muscle protein synthesis. Therefore, we have to give our body enough protein constantly. This means we shouldn’t consume our daily required protein in one single meal but split it up to roughly 3-5 meals or drinks per day. This way we will ensure to give our body enough protein every few hours.
Jim weighing 170 pounds will need around 170 grams of protein per day. Depending on the number of meals he is consuming, he will need to split it up the following way:
- 3 meals per day: 57 grams of protein per meal
- 4 meals per day: 43 grams of protein per meal
- 5 meals per day: 34 grams of protein per meal
These are only average numbers. It can be varied between each meal. General recommendations range between 20-45 grams of protein per meal.
Is There An Upper Limit?
There’s not really an upper limit in protein consumption, but there is an upper limit in the consumption of your total calories. As you calculated your daily total calories (which you can do here again), you know what you maximum number of total calories per day should be.
These are only recommendations and general guidelines. To be completely sure about your own body, you should talk to a doctor as he can tell you if there is anything your body needs to be aware of!
But getting back to protein, there is not really an upper limit. But we recommend you keep it to a total of 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight and 20-45 grams of protein per meal. If you follow these guidelines, you are on a good way for achieving your fitness goals.
Protein Shakes – How Many Protein Shakes A Day Do You Need?
Now, as we learned how many total calories and how much protein you should consume per day, we can get over to the questions of protein shakes. How many protein shakes a day do you need? What is too much and what else should you know? Let’s get right into it now:
What Are Protein Shakes?
Protein shakes are exactly what they are called. Protein powder combined with water or milk will be shaken into a creamy drink. The main ingredient of most protein shakes is “Whey” protein (also known as milk plasma) which is a product of the cheese industry. Whey protein is very good for our bodies as it consists of high amounts of protein, minerals, beta-glucans, lactose and B-vitamins.
Additionally, whey contains little to no fat but some high value amino acids, such as glutamate, glycine and cysteine, which are required by our bodies to slow down our aging process.
Benefits Of Protein Shakes
There are a lot of benefits when it comes to consuming protein shakes. The main benefits are:
- Easy way to reach our daily protein target
- Accelerate muscle growth
- We feel full for a longer time which supports our weight loss goals
- Regulate our blood sugar levels
- Increase our muscle mass
- Prevent muscle loss even in extreme diets
- Strengthen our immune system
- Slow down our aging process
These are the main benefits of protein in general and especially protein shakes.
How Much Protein Is In Each Shake?
This question goes along with the question of how many protein shakes a day we need to consume.
Answering that question of how much protein is in each shake depends on the product itself. There is a huge number of different suppliers and different products out there and every product has its own ingredients. The general amount of protein is roughly 20-50 grams of protein per shake.
To get an understanding of how much this is, check the following comparison:
This is what roughly 40 grams of protein look like in real foods compared to one protein shake. As you can see, consuming a protein shake is the most convenient way to reach your protein target.
How Many Protein Shakes A Day Do You Need?
The short answer to the question of how many protein shakes a day you need is:
The long answer is:
You don’t need any protein shake if you reach your daily protein target with your foods you are consuming. But if you are not getting enough protein, you can drink as many protein shakes as you like until you reach your protein target for that day.
So, you don’t necessarily need them but they’re a convenient way to consume your desired and required amount of protein!
What Does That Mean For You?
So, how many protein shakes a day should you consume now?
As many as you like/need until you reach your daily protein goal. There is no number which is considered too much or too low. It depends completely on your daily goal and on the amount of protein you are consuming with your regular diet.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
- Jim weighs 170 pounds and he needs 170 grams of protein per day. He used one of the tracking tools we mentioned above and found that he’s currently consuming around 100g of protein per day.
That means he still needs 70 grams of protein per day. Our recommendation for Jim is:
2 protein shakes per day with 35 grams of protein each shake!
- Kelly weighs 130 pounds and she needs 130 grams of protein per day. She also used one of the tracking tools we mentioned above and found that she’s currently consuming around 150g of protein per day.
That means she’s currently consuming 20 grams above the required amount of protein per day. Our recommendation for Kelly is:
0 protein shakes per day as she already met her protein target!
- Mike weighs 200 pounds and he needs 200 grams of protein per day. He used one of the tracking tools we mentioned above and found that he’s currently consuming around 160g of protein per day.
That means he still needs 40 grams of protein per day. Our recommendation for Mike is:
1 protein shake per day with 40 grams of protein each shake!
As you can see, the question of how many protein shakes a day you need depends on your personal preferences and your personal situation. There is no “too low” or “too high” when it comes to the number of shakes. The two most important factors are your total daily calorie goal and your daily protein target. As long as you keep both goals in mind, it’s totally up to you what ways you use to reach those targets.
If you are fine with reaching your protein target without any protein shake, then you don’t need any shake. If you need three protein shakes a day to reach your protein target, then go for it. It really comes down to your own preferences and what you like.
So, even if you will be told magical things about protein shakes, in the end they only create a convenient way for you to consume protein in a faster and easier way. But that’s all a protein shake will do for you.
So the question of how many protein shakes a day you should consume is something you can totally decide for yourself.
Daily calorie target + daily protein target = Awesome results! 😊
Some More Tips On Protein Consumption
The following tips are the same for everybody – no matter if you consume your protein through normal diet or protein shakes.
Daily Protein Timeline
In case you’re asking now at what times throughout the day you should consume protein, here are our recommendations – aim for 20-45 grams of protein per meal:
The first protein consumption should be done in the morning after getting up. After eight hours of sleep, your body will ask for it. This is why a high-quality breakfast is very important – especially if you’re doing sports regularly.
- Snack #1:
Grab some protein between your breakfast and your lunch if needed. This one is additional and only required if you can’t meet your daily protein requirements without this protein shake.
The second necessary protein intake should be done within your lunch meal. No matter what you consume, again aim for 20-45 grams of protein to constantly give your body the desired amounts of protein.
- Snack #2:
This is another important one. This protein consumption is meant to be done immediately after your workout (within 60-90 minutes). This snack will be a protein shake most of the time as it’s done easily and it will fill your body’s fuels immediately.
The final protein consumption of your day should be done in the evening – by having a dinner or an hour before going to bed. This will fill your body’s protein fuels before sleeping for eight hours. This way you will ensure your body can continue its work at night – even when you are not consuming anything during eight hours of sleep.
Should You Consume Protein Shakes Every Day?
Now, as you know how many protein shakes a day you “need”, let’s ask one final question:
Should you consume protein shakes every day?
The answer to this question is the same again: Only if you need them to reach your daily protein target. If you reach your protein target without protein shakes, then you don’t need to consume them every day. But if you need them to meet your protein targets, then go for it.
If you do that every day or only on some days doesn’t make a difference. The general answer is always:
Go for a protein shake if your body needs it but skip them if you already met your protein targets!
Take Home Message On Protein Shakes
Finally, you’ve learned how many protein shakes a day you need and if you need any at all.
Let’s summarize the two most important key points again:
- Make sure to reach your daily total calorie target
- Make sure to reach your daily protein target
As long as you are able to meet both your total calories and your protein targets, it’s totally up to you what ways you use to consume enough protein. That’s the beauty of your body’s nutrition and diet, there is a lot of room for personal preferences and how you structure your daily nutrition plan.
What Are Your Next Steps?
This step-by-step guide was all about nutrition and especially protein shakes. But what about your workout themselves? What exercises should you do? How often should you work out? Check our following resources for answering these questions and a lot more:
- Did you ever wonder how a well-structured training plan for Ironman competitors looks like? If yes, look no further and check out our Ironman guide.
- What muscle groups are there and which of these should you workout together? Our muscle groups guide will tell you everything you need to know.
- Do you want to have an effective workout plan but you don’t have any equipment? No worries, we’ve created a chest workout routine you can do with nothing but your own bodyweight.
- People are training mainly these muscles we can see directly. But there is a lot more we have to keep in mind, such as working our core muscles. Check our core workout guide for detailed tips on how to do that.
- How many exercises should you perform? How many sets and reps should you perform? Check our guide here for answering these questions and a lot more.
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