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How many protein shakes should you drink per day?

Spoiler alert: it depends on a few factors.

How Many Protein Shakes Should You Drink per Day? | Juniper

If you’re a fan of protein shakes like we are, you might be curious if there’s an optimal number of them to drink.

After all, they offer a good dose of protein, vitamins and minerals, they’re low in calories, and they’re actually pretty tasty.

Spoiler alert: it depends on a few factors, but there is a range that the majority of people should stick to. Let’s find out more.

How much total protein do you need per day?

Protein is a crucial part of a balanced diet, helping to build and repair muscle, provide energy, support the immune system and contribute to weight management, among many other essential functions.

According to the British Nutrition Foundation, women need around 45g per day [1].

But this can vary depending on body weight. A better guideline to aim for is 0.75g per kilogram of body weight if you’re a woman aged 19-70 years old or 0.94g per kilogram if you’re 70+ [15].

For example, if you’re 40 and weigh 80 kilograms, you’d multiply 80 by 0.75 to get a recommended daily intake (RDI) of 60g.

Now, things change if you’re working out a lot or trying to lose weight. 

Those in the former camp need anywhere from 1.2 to 1.7g per kilogram of body weight to support their higher protein needs [2].

Working out a lot creates extra demand on your muscles, and your body needs additional protein to help repair them.

Those in the latter could aim for up to 1.6g per kilogram of body weight, as there’s significant evidence that high-protein diets can help support weight loss and build muscle mass by increasing muscle protein synthesis.

For example, a 2017 study found that people on a high-protein diet of about 1.34g per kilogram of body weight lost a lot more weight than those who stuck to a standard-protein diet [3].

Another 2015 review found that a protein consumption of anywhere from 1.2 to 1.6g can help with body weight management by reducing fat mass [4].

More recently, a 2020 review established similar benefits of a high-protein diet and also found that increased protein can help prevent weight regain [5].

How much protein is in a shake?

There’s a huge variance between protein shakes, with most containing anywhere from 10 to 30g per serving.

Ideally, though, you want to ensure yours has at least 20g of protein per serving, otherwise, it’s not going to do a whole lot to support weight loss and muscle growth.

The benefits of drinking protein shakes

Protein shakes have the potential to deliver a bunch of benefits, such as:

Bumping up your protein RDI

Trying to reach the minimum RDI for protein can be tricky through dietary means, especially if you’re vegetarian, vegan or don’t care for certain foods.

On the other hand, if you include protein shakes in your diet, you can quite easily consume enough protein with minimal effort.

Helping with fat loss

Protein shakes can be a great tool for weight loss for multiple reasons [5].

First, dietary protein can make you feel more satiated (full) because it takes longer to digest and triggers certain bodily functions that contribute to a sense of fullness. This could potentially reduce the desire to overeat. 

Second, dietary protein can increase your energy expenditure because it requires more energy to digest than carbs — thus helping your body to burn more calories.

And lastly, your body finds it much easier to store carbs as fat than it does protein, so eating more protein can mean retaining less fat [6].

Building muscle

Another key part of losing weight is building lean muscle mass — because muscle can burn more calories than fat.

Protein is a vital building block for gaining muscle. When you consume protein, your body breaks it down into amino acids.

These are crucial for repairing and rebuilding muscle fibres after they get damaged during exercise, resulting in bigger and stronger muscles.

Protein also delivers nutrients to your muscle tissue to keep it healthy.

Research also shows that protein supplementation supports muscle strength and size, particularly among individuals who do resistance training [7].

Providing other vitamins and minerals

Many protein shakes, like ours, include vitamins and minerals that nourish your body.

Some of the good things in Juniper’s Nourish Shakes, for example, include iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc and vitamins A through K.

Offering a quick and easy protein source

Forget boiling an egg or grilling a steak. Protein shakes provide a really easy way of getting the right amount of protein in.

You simply mix the protein powder with water, milk, ice, fruits or whatever else takes your fancy, and you’ve got yourself an instant (and tasty) protein hit.

How many protein shakes a day should you drink?

With all of the possible benefits of protein shakes, surely you can’t go overboard, right?

Not exactly. Your best bet is to stick to around 1-3 shakes per day, depending on how active you are:

  • If you’re not doing a whole lot of exercise, 1 is usually enough
  • If you’re fairly active, try to cap your daily protein shake consumption to 2
  • If you’re doing lots of exercise on a particular day, you could up your intake to 3

The reason is that even though protein shakes aren’t bad for you, these amounts are perfectly adequate for meeting your daily protein needs.

Plus, any more and you might be consuming protein shakes at the expense of whole foods.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that you shouldn’t rely on protein shakes alone to lose weight.

Instead, they’re best incorporated into a holistic weight loss strategy that incorporates a healthy diet, exercise and mindset.

Juniper’s Weight Reset Programme is one such strategy. The program combines expert guidance from a team of health coaches, dietitians and clinicians, weight loss medications, health tracking and more to help you implement healthy and sustainable habits that’ll support your weight loss journey.

Do you need to take protein powder every day?

There’s absolutely no harm in enjoying a protein shake (or two) each day, but it’s not a necessity.

You might have days when you’re able to meet your protein needs through your diet, potentially making protein powders unnecessary.

However, if you’ve got dietary restrictions, a smaller appetite or you find it hard to reach the daily RDI, you might prefer to rely on protein supplements for your daily protein needs.

Can you have too many protein shakes a day?

As far as protein itself goes, experts aren’t entirely sure whether it’s possible to overconsume it. 

Many health professionals recommend sticking to a maximum daily protein intake of 2g per kilogram of body weight [8][9].

The primary reason is that consuming too much protein could lead to certain health risks [10][11].

Others say amounts greater than 3g per kilogram of body weight are totally fine and can support weight loss.

Although, that extra protein would need to be met with adequate exercise to burn it off and reap the benefits for your muscles.

See, your body’s unable to keep excess protein. After it has used the protein it needs, it either has to expend any excess as energy or retain it as fat [12].

Looking at protein shakes specifically, you might experience digestive problems like bloating, gas and/or constipation if you have too many. 

What's the best time to drink a protein shake?

There’s no single answer to this one. In fact, while many believe it’s best to consume a protein shake post-workout, research shows that there’s very little difference whether you have it before or after.

A 2017 study found that muscle size and strength were much the same between the groups who drank a protein shake immediately before exercising and those who drank it immediately afterwards [13].

There’s also no consensus on whether you need to drink one straight away. Some studies suggest the ideal window could be as much as a few hours long.[14]

What’s most important is how much protein you’re getting across the entire day. So, feel free to enjoy a protein shake whenever it suits you and your workout schedule.

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