Optimal Protein Intake Guide
How Many Protein Shakes Should You Drink A Day?
How Many Protein Shakes Should You Be Drinking Daily?
Protein shakes are some of the most popular dietary supplements, especially for athletes and workout enthusiasts. People drink various types of protein shakes for different but mostly valid reasons, such as losing weight, building muscle mass and repairing damaged muscles and tissues. And it's true – coupled with the right workout, diet and lifestyle, protein shakes can help you lose weight and build muscles and strength.
WHY DRINK PROTEIN SHAKES IN THE FIRST PLACE?
After vigorous physical exercise or any workout session, some of the protein tissues in your muscles get damaged. These tiny tears in the muscles help them grow bigger and stronger as they heal – that’s basically how strength exercises help build muscle mass.
The only problem is, the body's natural healing processes slow down significantly with age. The adult human body is particularly slow at regenerating and restoring protein tissue fibres. And that’s where protein shakes come in.
The AHS defines dietary supplements as products containing ingredients such as nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Protein shakes are protein-based supplements containing amino acids – the building blocks of proteins. Once ingested, the amino acids become the raw material the body needs to build and repair muscles, accelerating the body's natural regenerative processes. Ultimately, this leads to faster muscle growth, lowered risks or injuries, and a generally healthier and more muscular body.
Of course, you can get the same amino acids from protein-rich foods such as meats, legumes, and dairy products. But to get sufficient proteins from food material, you'd have to spend more time in the kitchen than at the gym. Protein-based supplements come in concentrated (sometimes flavoured) tablet, liquid or powder form, saving your body the time and effort it takes to digest and absorb raw protein.
Besides, protein-based supplements are derived from animal and plant products; casein and whey concentrate come from milk, and there are also vegan protein supplements made from multiple nutrients and protein-rich plant-based sources.
In short, taking protein shakes is just an easier way of ingesting enough proteins without having to eat multiple courses of beef every day. So technically, it’s not a question of how many protein shakes you should drink per day but how much protein your body requires every day.
CALCULATION OF YOUR PROTEIN INTAKE
The amount of protein your body needs depends on your weight and workout regime. For the average person, a daily intake of 0.8 g of protein per kilo of body weight is sufficient. If you work out regularly (at least three times a week), you should consume about 1.5g of protein per kilo of body weight every day. If we are talking intense workouts like heavy strength training, endurance drills and HIIT, you should up your daily protein intake to at least 2 g per kilogram of body weight.
Remember, men need about 10 per cent more protein than ladies because they are generally larger and have leaner and denser muscles.
A heavy-workout bodybuilder weighing 90 kg must consume 180 g of protein every day to maintain the immense muscle mass. A good example of a protein-rich meal served with brown rice, a chicken breast and some vegetables can only provide about 60 g of protein at best. In this scenario, the bodybuilder would have to eat three to four heavy protein-rich meals each day, which may still not be enough. Alternatively, he can have three regular meals and a one-scoop HydroxyBurn Lean5 Low Carb Protein shake between meals and after intense workout sessions.
HOW MUCH PROTEIN IS IN ONE SHAKE?
Now that you can work out how much protein your body needs on a daily basis, the next question should be: how much protein is in a protein shake? Now, that depends on the concentrate or isolate in question. For instance, the Nitrovol Lean Muscle powder contains 22 g of protein per 60 g serving, and the Athlete Standard Whey has 26 g of protein in every 33 g of powder. But on average, a 500 ml protein shake should give you 20-30 g of protein.
FINALLY, HOW MANY PROTEIN SHAKES SHOULD YOU DRINK IN A DAY?
From what we’ve already discussed, the number of protein shakes you should drink per day depends on three things:
Your body mass
Physical activities and routines (workout, sports, bodybuilding, etc.)
Your preferred protein concentrate or isolate
If you're of average build and go to the gym regularly, two protein shakes a day is enough to maintain your body mass. But if you're seriously involved in athletic sports, fitness practices and strength exercises, you may need to drink three to four protein shakes daily to sustain your physique and performance. It basically comes down to individual physical characteristics, lifestyle, diet and preferences.
CAN YOU OVERDOSE ON PROTEIN?
You can't overdose on protein shakes or other protein-based supplements. However, taking too much-concentrated protein can have some side effects. Think of these supplements as more like protein snacks than alternatives to meals.
The body does not store excess protein like it does carbs and fats. Instead, the unused protein is either excreted or converted into fat. In some cases, consuming too much protein, especially without the workout routines to make use of the amino acids, can sabotage your fitness or weight loss goals.
Take only the amount of proteins you need to sustain your health, sports, fitness and personal standards. But then again, don’t overcomplicate things by painstakingly measuring your protein intake by gram. Determine a rough but reasonable intake estimate based on your lifestyle.
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Dietary Protein: Why, When and How Much?
Protein is one of the most important building blocks of your body’s muscles, bones, cartilage, skin and blood and is necessary for almost all of the body’s physiological functions. In addition to being an essential macronutrient, it may also serve as an energy source when the body can’t utilize carbohydrates or fat.
So how much protein should you eat each day? That varies based on several factors – your current weight, your gender and your goals. Do you want to build muscle? Maintain or lose weight? Look more toned? Eating the right amount and the right type of protein can help you achieve one or all of these desired outcomes.
“The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein is 46 grams per day for women and 56 grams for men. Depending on your body weight and activity level, that number may be higher, but a good rule of thumb is 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight,” says Jayna Metalonis, registered dietitian at University Hospitals. “This is the minimum amount of protein you need just to maintain good health and does not consider other factors like metabolism, body composition and exercise – if you exercise regularly the recommended daily allowance of protein may be slightly more,” she adds.
Here are just a few examples of protein-rich foods:
Grilled chicken breast (3 to 4 ounces): 30 grams protein
Hamburger patty (4 ounces): 28 grams protein
Yogurt (1 cup): 8 to 12 grams protein
Low-fat cottage cheese (1 cup) 30 grams of protein
Protein to Lose Weight
Diet and exercise are always the most reliable and consistent ways to reach your fitness goals including weight loss. Ensuring that your diet includes lots of protein can be helpful if you’re trying to lose weight because protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates and can help you feel fuller longer, which can make reducing your calorie intake easier to achieve. In addition, consuming enough protein helps to ensure that the weight you lose is fat, not muscle.
Protein to Gain Muscle
A common myth is that eating more protein will make your muscles huge and bulky. This is not true unless you push your body with heavy exercises and significant dietary adjustments designed to achieve a bodybuilder physique. Instead, adding more protein to your diet PLUS some type of weight or resistance training can help change your body composition to one that is characterized by more lean muscle and less fat. As a bonus, increased muscle mass may also increase your metabolism and help you shed fat, leading to a more toned appearance. You should always consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Best Time of Day to Eat Protein
The protein you eat is most helpful to your body when eaten consistently at each meal to keep your energy levels up. In particular, protein intake is very beneficial at the following times:
Morning: When you wake up in the morning, your body has already used up most of the nutrients you ate during your previous meal. Consuming protein first thing in the morning is a great way to get your energy back and get your day started on the right foot. Try adding eggs, milk, yogurt or cheese to your breakfast for an easy protein boost.
Snacks: If you find yourself getting hungry between meals, a protein-dense snack might be just what you need to tide yourself over. Try a handful of almonds or a serving of Greek yogurt.
After a workout: Eating protein within 30 minutes of completing your workout helps your muscles heal and build strength.
Sources of Dietary Protein
You may think that it will be difficult to consume enough protein each day to meet your body’s needs, especially if you are a vegetarian or want to avoid eating too much meat for health reasons. Actually, there are many readily available sources of meat and non-meat protein (some of which may surprise you) that you can build into your diet. These include:
Boneless, skinless chicken breast, lean beef or fish
Low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese
Whole grains like quinoa and millet
Beans and legumes (kidney beans, navy beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas)
Firm tofu (soybean curds)
Edamame (immature soybeans)
Nuts and seeds (especially peanuts and almonds)
Avocados, leafy greens and cherries
Eating a combination of these foods daily can help you meet your protein requirements and keep meals interesting. Even vegetarians have plenty of protein-rich foods to choose from.
What about Protein Supplements?
Overall, it is best to get your protein from a variety of fresh, unprocessed foods such as those listed above. Protein powders and pre-blended protein drinks/shakes are considered dietary supplements and, as such, are not regulated by the FDA and may contain ingredients (even toxins) not listed on the label. In addition to causing digestive upset in some people, some protein supplements may also be high in added sugar and calories. There is no data to support the idea that taking in high amounts of protein through supplements will increase muscle mass or speed weight loss. And, they are expensive. Experts recommend sticking to natural protein sources for the best health benefits.
To put protein to work for you, it is important to first understand your individual nutritional needs. University Hospitals has a team of clinical dietitians who can help you create a personalized diet and exercise plan to meet your health and fitness goals.
Optimal Protein Intake Guide
Quickly and easily calculate your optimal daily intake with our protein intake calculator.
How much protein do you need per day?
As with most things in nutrition, there’s no simple answer. Your ideal intake of calories and protein depends on your health, body composition, main goal, and the type, intensity, duration, and frequency of your physical activity. And even taking all this into account, you’ll end up with a starting number, which you’ll need to adjust through self-experimentation.