Protein shakes have been popular with athletes for decades, but now they are also popular with those wanting to lose or gain weight.
Most protein powders on the market today contain whey. If you’re looking for a more palatable vegetable protein powder, then try brown rice protein powder instead. It’s just as effective as whey protein powder in muscle recovery and muscle growth (1).
Whether its whey or vegetable protein powders, different amounts of protein shakes are needed for different goals. But is it safe – and if so – how many is too many?
Is Protein Powder Safe?
You really can have too much of a good thing. When you take in more protein than your body needs (many experts say that 25-35 grams is the max your body can handle per meal) the extra protein will be stored as fat, while the excess amino acids will simply be excreted.
On the one hand, using a quality protein shake is a convenient solution for a snack that delivers exactly what you want in a manageable manner. However, not everyone needs extra protein. People who eat a diet that is rich in meat, fish, dairy, and eggs and do not do perform intense weight training are unlikely to require protein supplements.
It’s also important that you don’t introduce too much protein into your body at the expense of other macronutrients. Protein shakes should be used to supplement an otherwise healthy diet.
More severe side effects of a protein overdose include an elevated risk of osteoporosis, kidney stones, and kidney disease.
There’s not enough reliable information about the safety of taking protein powders for pregnant women and people with health conditions so stay on the safe side and avoid them. Extra protein supplements for kids is unnecessary and possibly dangerous.
How Many Protein Shakes a Day to Build Muscle?
According to The National Institute of Health (US) and the British Nutrition Foundation (UK) the average adult needs 0.8g of protein per kg of bodyweight. If you’re looking to bulk-up you’ll need to increase this number. Research suggests 2.2g of protein per kg of body weight is sufficient for building muscle.
With many variables, it is advisable to use a protein intake calculator to check how much you need.
Protein shakes can contain anywhere from 20 – 50 grams of protein. Based on that, you can calculate the quantity of protein powder that you may safely consume per day to build muscle. Whilst you can spread your protein shake intake throughout the day, you could also drink them with a meal. In theory, with the correct diet, there should be no need to take more than three per day.
The research on protein supplements suggests that they significantly build muscle size and strength in adults who perform resistance exercise training, such as lifting weights.
All-in-one protein shakes, such as Reflex One Stop Xtreme, are the best protein powders for muscle growth and bulking. They are designed to pack all the ingredients needed to help improve training performance and recovery. Instead of buying separate products such as BCAAs and creatine, these supplements already contain suitable doses.
How Many Protein Shakes a Day to Lose Weight?
Protein powders do a lot more for your body than simply accelerate muscle growth. They also encourage a feeling of fullness, regulate blood sugar levels and provide long-lasting energy, preventing you from snacking between meals and making them a valuable aid to weight loss (2).
In addition, protein powders can decrease your appetite by affecting your hunger hormones. They can also help you feel full for longer, which can help you eat less and lose body fat.
If you’re trying to lose weight, 20 grams per shake is sufficient to reduce hunger. Taking 1 shake per day is a good way to start. It’s best to take it either before or instead of a meal, with 1 scoop of protein powder in the shake.
Perhaps one of the best things about the best diet protein shakes, such as PhD Diet Whey, is the combination of scientifically researched weight-loss ingredients. It includes CLA, flaxseed, green tea and l-carnitine – all of which show promise in aiding weight loss.
As the name suggests, this protein powder is aimed at those looking to slim down. If you are already overweight, your protein requirements will be lower, so the macro profile of 74/12/14 reflects this.
How Many Protein Shakes a Day to Gain Weight?
Supplementing your diet with mass gainer protein powders may help you reach your weight gain target, without the risk of gaining excess unwanted fat.
And thanks to the leucine they contain, protein powders additionally help to prevent muscle loss (3).
By adding weight gain protein shakes into your current diet, you can add the extra calories you need to gain weight. Think of them as your 11’s or afternoon snack to stop you from munching on high sugar products.
Drink 1-3 shakes per day (as directed in the instructions) and mix the protein shake with full-fat milk, rather than water, skimmed or semi-skimmed milk options.
Possibly the best all-round mass gainer protein supplement you will find is Hench Nutrition’s Hi-Calorie Mass Gainer. This is especially great for those who find it difficult to eat enough food to put on weight (ectomorphs).
Remember re-fuelling both pre- and post-workout with a protein powder is the most important rule of diet and exercise. If you want to get bigger following a workout, it’s essential your muscles have enough protein to repair and rebuild themselves.
(1) Joy, Jordan M., et al. “The effects of 8 weeks of whey or rice protein supplementation on body composition and exercise performance.” Nutrition Journal 12.1 (2013): 1.
(2) Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S., et al. “Dietary protein, weight loss, and weight maintenance.” Annual review of nutrition 29 (2009): 21-41.
(3) Buse, Maria G., and S. SANDRA Reid. “Leucine. A possible regulator of protein turnover in muscle.” Journal of Clinical Investigation 56.5 (1975): 1250.