Some people say you take them before, during, or right after workouts. Some say you take a protein shake right when you wake up, others say just before you go to bed. And then there are some people who say every few hours!
It’s enough to make you lose any desire to take protein shakes completely, right? Well, if you’re close to giving up hope – don’t let go just yet. We’ve put together a no-nonsense guide to protein shakes. We’ve read the research and dissected the science, and come up with everything you need to know. So, how many protein shakes a day? You’re about to find out…
What are the benefits of protein shakes?
When we talk about just how many protein shakes a day you should be taking, we’re talking about whey protein. This is because whey protein is the most common protein powder on the market. There are other protein powders you can take, and these include casein protein and grass-fed whey protein. But to understand the benefits of whey protein, and how many protein shakes a day to take, you need to understand more about whey protein.
What is whey protein?
Whey protein is a mixture of proteins that have been removed from ‘whey’. Whey is a liquid created during the process of making cheese. It can be lumpy and is made during the coagulation process. This is where milk turns from a liquid into a harder substance.
Usually, fat is removed from whey and it’s then processed by drying it out into a powder, or spraying it through a film to separate proteins. From there, whey protein is blended with flavours and preservatives to make your protein powder. Because they are completely natural, whey proteins are affected by heat. This means your protein shake shouldn’t be made with hot or warm water.
What are the benefits of drinking whey protein shakes
When you’re wondering how many protein shakes a day to take, do you know how those protein shakes benefit you?
Probably not: but that’s OK.
Whey protein is packed full of branched-chain amino acids (or BCAAs). These amino acids include Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. Studies show that BCAAs help people adapt to stresses from exercises. They can also help people feel less fatigued. This study was done during a competitive 30-km cross-country race. The runners in the study showed they were less fatigued when they took BCAAs.
Because whey is made primarily of proteins, drinking whey protein shakes right after training can help to increase muscle hypertrophy. Muscle hypertrophy is where the muscle increases in size. This doesn’t mean that taking whey protein will make you look like a bodybuilder – but it can help your muscles become more defined.
Taking whey protein has also been shown to help increase weight loss, help reduce body fat, and decrease triglycerides. This can be because taking whey protein shakes makes you feel fuller for longer. This means that whey protein shakes are perfect for people on diets, or those looking to lose weight. Whey protein has also been shown to increase lean muscle mass and muscle protein synthesis. Taking whey protein shakes each day also helps you have a balanced diet rich in protein. This means your body has the building blocks it needs to grow.
How often should you take protein shakes?
Deciding how many protein shakes a day to take depends on the benefits you are looking to gain. The number of protein shakes a day you should drink depends on:
- If you want to support your healthy diet
- Whether you want to build muscle
- Or if you want to keep your existing muscle while you’re dieting
To understand how many protein shakes a day you need to take, first think about what you want to achieve by taking protein shakes. Then, you need to start measuring your protein intake carefully. Tracking the amount of protein you consume each day is crucial. If you consume too little, you won’t see the benefits. If you have too much protein, your calculations of how many protein shakes a day to take will be off. Track your protein intake using scales and apps like MyFitnessPal.
Your recommended daily protein intake can be calculated like this:
- For athletes or highly active people looking to lose fat but preserve lean muscle mass – 1.5-2.2g/kg or 0.68-1g/lb of bodyweight
- Athlete or very active person looking to maintain levels, or someone looking to lose body fat but keep lean muscle mass – 1.0-1.5g/kg or 0.45-0.68g/lb of bodyweight
- If you aren’t active, but are looking to drink whey protein shakes to help you reach your daily protein intake – 0.8g/kg or 0.36g/lb of bodyweight
- Source: Examine
What does this mean for protein shakes?
If you are reaching your protein goals just by eating normally, you do not need to supplement with protein shakes. This can be done by eating protein-rich foods like fish and meats. Protein shakes should only be used when you aren’t able to hit your protein intake goal each day. Or when you are looking for a quick boost of protein – like right after a workout.
So you don’t need to drink protein shakes?
Most people don’t get enough protein in their diets to reach their daily goals with normal food alone. That’s why protein shakes are used by some of the world’s top athletes and by models and celebrities who are looking to stay in shape all year round. Protein shakes are the easiest way to make sure you meet your protein goals each day. Working out how many protein shakes a day to take completely depends on your intake of protein. But taking protein shakes is the number 1 way to guarantee a high protein intake.
What times should you take whey protein?
As well as asking “how many protein shakes a day?”, you probably ask “when should I take protein shakes?” – right? It’s a really common question. This is because people like you want to know what is best for their bodies and their health. When to take protein shakes depends on what you are looking to gain from drinking whey protein shakes.
If you’re looking to improve general health: sip 1 or 2 servings of protein powder throughout the day. This means you will feel full and that your body is supplied with high-quality protein all day long.
To help boost recovery: drink 1 or 2 servings straight after working out or competition. If lifting, can drink 1 serving beforehand to supply your body with protein to feed your muscles throughout a workout.
To help gain mass: drink one casein protein shake before bed. Casein protein takes longer to digest than whey protein. This means it stays in your system longer and feeds your muscles throughout the night.
To work out when to take your whey protein shakes, think about the benefits you’d like to receive. Then work out how many protein shakes a day to take, and the timings of each shake.
What whey protein powder should you buy?
The benefits of taking whey protein should be clear. Protein powder contains high concentrations of branched-chain amino acids that help you fight fatigue. This means you are better prepared to go about your work each day.
Taking whey protein can also help you to lose weight by making you feel fuller. This means that it’s perfect as a dietary supplement. When you’re deciding how many protein shakes a day to take, it’s important to make sure you’re taking high-quality whey protein. If you drink low-quality protein, you won’t get all of the benefits. Poor-quality whey protein can cause bloating, headaches, fatigue, and digestive issues. These counteract all of the positive benefits drinking whey protein can give you.
What makes a high-quality whey protein powder?
The best whey protein powder to take each day is grass-fed whey protein. This is because grass-fed whey comes from cows that have been fed an all-natural diet. This means that they are hormone-free and that their milk is the highest quality.
Some grass-fed whey protein manufacturers only feed their cows grass part of the year. This means that for some of the year they are pumped with pesticides and hormones. These then get into their milk and into your protein powder. Look for a protein powder that is also free from soy lecithin. Soy lecithin has been shown to cause health complications.
If possible, look for a whey protein powder that is organic and has been independently tested to make sure it contains no nasty ingredients. When you’re taking something to help keep you in the best shape, you’ll want to make sure it doesn’t damage your health at the same time. A high-quality whey protein powder should aid your recovery, not make it harder!