Shake It Off: How Many Protein Shakes Should You Be Drinking?
Protein, like reading, is fundamental. Our bodies need to build lean muscle and repair from injury. If you’re working out, you may be considering supplementing your daily diet with protein shakes. But is it possible to overdo it? How many protein shakes a day is too many?
Is it Safe to Have More Than One Protein Shake a Day?
Yes. It’s safe to have more than one protein shake a day, but the experts we spoke with recommended capping your consumption at three.
What happens if I drink protein shakes all day?
“One day of drinking several [four-plus] protein shakes likely won’t cause harm but may be quite uncomfortable physically,” says Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RD, LD/N, a registered dietitian in Miami. She says consuming a lot of protein can lead to GI symptoms that may include:
- stomach upset
Another potential pitfall: Drinking too many protein shakes in one day could infringe on the consumption of other essential macros.
“If someone consumes four to five protein shakes a day, that really limits their vegetable and fiber intake as well as other nutrients commonly found in whole grains, greens, fruits and vegetables,” says Brittany Modell, MS, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian in New York City.
Can You Overdose on Protein?
Not technically, but chronically over-consuming protein can have some unpleasant side effects.
“Protein isn’t a drug — you can’t ‘overdose’ on it— but [chronically] over-consuming it could… cause excess fat storage (overconsumption of any nutrient can) and cause gastrointestinal discomfort,” says Auslander Moreno.
Getting too much protein can be a waste of money and even sabotage your weight-loss or fitness goals.
“When someone over-consumes protein, there is a certain point where your body is no longer absorbing it,” says Modell. “Your body doesn’t store excess protein like it does carbohydrates; that extra protein will either be converted into fat or excreted.”
Calculating Your Protein Intake
So, how much protein does the average person need per day?
For most people, .8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day should be sufficient, but if you work out regularly, shoot for 1.5 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day. If your workouts are intense (think HIIT or heavy strength training), you should aim even higher — up to 2 grams per kilogram bodyweight per day.
Here’s a handy chart that shows how much protein you need per day by bodyweight.
The best course is moderation: One or two shakes a day.
“When discussing protein shakes with my patients, I always bring it back to the fact that they are a supplement,” says Michelle Grader, RDN, a registered dietitian with Bethany Medical Clinic in New York City. “They are there for convenience, when necessary, to supplement a healthy, balanced diet—not to replace any real food.”
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- Whey Protein Supplementation Enhances Whole Body Protein Metabolism and Performance Recovery after Resistance Exercise: A Double-Blind Crossover Study www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5537849/
- Dietary protein intake and human health pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2016/FO/C5FO01530H#!divAbstract
- International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-017-0177-8