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How Many Protein Shakes Should You Have Every Day? A Dietitian Can Help

by Shashi Thennakoon 7 months ago in longevity magazine / health
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Protein shakes are a terrific way to get more protein into your diet. They're simple to make—simply mix water and powder together—and great for when you're at the gym, on the road, or just don't feel like grilling a chicken breast or frying a few eggs.

Certain shakes, especially those prepared with whey and casein, are complete proteins (they contain all nine essential amino acids) with high biological value (your body can absorb and use all of these amino acids), meaning they contain high-quality protein similar to that found in meat, fish, and eggs.

Men should strive for between 1.2 and 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight each day, according to Men's Health; for a 185-pound man, that's around 90 to 120 grams per day. Sure, sipping 4-5 scoops of whey protein powder will do the trick. However, relying solely on protein shakes is neither a good idea nor required.

If you're drinking protein shakes like they're going out of style, you should probably cut back. Protein shakes are nutritional supplements, which means they should be used to supplement your diet rather than to replace it entirely. (Plus, the taste and texture get super monotonous after a while.)

Certain protein shakes might be a source of complete protein, but they’re not a complete replacement for protein-rich foods.

Wondering how many protein shakes is too much each day? We got you.

What does an average protein shake contain?

The Cambridge Dictionary, believe it or not, has an official meaning for the term protein shake: "a beverage produced by combining protein powder (= a powder containing a component that helps the body develop and become stronger) with milk or water."

Protein shakes can be made by blending protein powder with liquid, fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients in a blender, but that's truly a smoothie.

Let's use the dictionary definition for the sake of this discussion. A protein shake is just a scoop of protein powder blended with water, usually containing 20 to 30 grams of protein.

Protein powders aren't all made equal. Animal-based protein powders (such as whey and casein from milk) and some plant-based proteins, such as pea protein and soy protein, provide all nine essential amino acids. If you're going to use protein powder instead of other protein sources, make sure it has all of the required amino acids.

Megan Byrd, a dietitian and writer at The Oregon Dietitian, says, "Protein shakes can supply numerous nutrients for post-workout recovery for an active person." Protein supplementation pre- or post-workout can increase both recovery and performance, according to a 2018 analysis published in Frontiers in Nutrition. The amount of protein required for this boost varied by individual and activity, but it commonly ranged from 20 to 40 grams, according to the scientists.

Protein smoothies can also help you fill in dietary gaps. According to Byrd, "They're a terrific method to get a boost of protein for those who don't receive enough or are prone to muscle loss," such as elderly persons or people with certain conditions.

How many protein shakes should you drink on a daily basis?

While there's nothing wrong with protein shakes in and of itself, consuming too many of them could mean you're not receiving enough nutrients from other sources.

"Food should come first in my opinion," Byrd argues. "However, protein smoothies are an excellent method to receive a daily boost of protein if you have a food intolerance or struggle to acquire enough protein in your diet organically." However, Byrd advises against drinking a protein shake alone to replace a meal because the nutrient profile isn't comparable to that of a full meal.

"The most I would recommend to an ordinary person is two per day," she explains, "since anything more than that will negatively impact your diet." If you exercise consistently and want to gain muscle, two protein drinks each day should suffice.You probably don't need more than one protein shake per day if you're not really active.

Three protein drinks per day may be appropriate if you're really active (more than one workout per day or exceptionally extended training sessions), according to Byrd.

What's the bottom line? Protein shakes are not foods, but rather supplements.

Protein smoothies are a quick and easy way to increase your protein intake, and they can easily be incorporated into a healthy diet. But keep in mind that protein shakes aren't meals, and you shouldn't rely on them too much.

longevity magazinehealth

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Shashi Thennakoon

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