How many protein shakes a day? And how to calculate it

By Ire | Calories

Mar 13

QUESTION: Clients often ask me how many protein shakes a day should they have. Question whether they should have it only on the days when they train follows. Of course, some are also worried about effect of over consuming protein.

ANSWER: Amount of protein shakes and protein scoops will depend on your diet. Protein shakes are not any magical potion. All it is suppose to do is to supplement protein intake you are not getting from your diet.

  • If your diet already consists of plenty meats, eggs, dairy, you probably don’t have to drink any protein shakes a day
  • if you are not having that much protein to begin with, lets talk about how many protein shakes you should have
  • if you are not sure how your diet looks currently, make sure to read below carefully

FIGURE OUT HOW MUCH YOU NEED

Firstly, I want you to understand that everything we are doing is an estimation. The only thing we can control is the accuracy of that estimation. I will offer you two ways to calculate your protein intake. One is going to be easier and but not as accurate. Second way is going to take some self-observation, but will give us more accurate results. Those are the result that can later determine the difference between muscle loss or muscle gain.

  • EASY WAY: Weight (lbs) x 0.8 = TOTAL DAILY PROTEIN INTAKE
  • ACCURATE WAY: LEARN TO COUNT YOUR CALORIES!

CALCULATING CALORIES

I have written an extensive article about calculating calories. Make sure to read about it here, to get even more information.

1. TDEE

TDEE stands for Total Daily Energy Expenditure. It pretty much tells us how much how much energy we burn daily. We burn energy in two ways: Intentionally and Unintentionally.

  • UNINTENTIONALLY: Your body needs a certain amount of energy in order to survive. Even while you sleep at night, you organs are still using some energy to keep you alive
  • INTENTIOANLLY: Your level of activity will determinate how much energy you burn extra per day.

Combine both ways to burn energy and we get TDEE. (X) You can calculate yours at TDEE Calculator.

2. SURPLUS / DEFICIT

  • If you goal is to lose weight, it is recommended to be around 500 kcal below your TDEE daily. (X-500)
  • If you goal is to gain weight and muscle, it is recommended to be 300 kcal above TDEE. (X+300)

Therefore, depending on your goal, add or subtract that from your number you got from the calculator.

3. MACRONUTRIENTS

To make things a little more complicated, we will divide calories in macronutrients. Calories are a big group which divide down into three categories: Carbohydrates, Fat and Protein. Because this article is about protein shake intake, we will only be talking about protein intake.

How many protein shakes a day? Pie chart showing how calories are broken down into macronutrients: Carbohydrates, Fats and Protein


In order to justify your daily protein needs, it is recommended to take around 30% of protein daily. That means that you can multiply the above number with 0.3 to get the amount of calories that should be coming from protein. There is 4 grams of protein in 1kcal of Protein. That means that in order to get grams, we will divide the entire number by 4.

  • Weight loss: ((X-500) x 0.3)/4 = grams of protein you need daily
  • Weight Gain: ((X+300) x 0.3)/4 = grams of protein you need daily

FIGURE OUT HOW MUCH YOU ARE ALREADY EATING

1. MYFITNESSPAL

Best way to go about that is to get yourself a scale first. Take a day as an experiment as weight every single piece of food you put in your mouth through the day. Write down the measurements and plug in into Myfitnesspal. This wonderfully constructed website will take into account everything you ate and give you an estimation of your macronutrients. Note down the amount of protein you ate.

SO, HOW MANY PROTEIN SHAKES A DAY?

Only reasonable thing to do now it to compare result from Myfitnesspal to the one you need. If your little experiment showed that you eat too little protein, you have two choices.

1. Eat more protein rich foods
2. Invest in a protein powder supplement

SUPPLEMENTS

If you decide to invest in a supplement, you should always do your research before purchasing anything. Supplements are not FDA regulated and unfortunately, that resulted in many scandals within the industry.

I wrote an entire buying guide on purchasing protein powder, which will help you with protein brand selection.

SHOULD YOU DRINK IT EVERYDAY, OR JUST WHEN YOU WORKOUT?

Firstly, you need to understand that drinking protein shake is nothing that will magically transform your body. Drinking a protein shake or eating a first-sized chicken breast will give you the same effect (25 gram of protein).

Only thing that really matters is your Total Daily Protein Intake. Depending on your goal, Total Daily Protein Intake should stay rougly the same and is equally important every day of the week. No matter whether you exercised or had chicken instead of protein powder.

DRINKING TOO MANY PROTEIN SHAKES?

Many articles and lifters grossly overestimate the amount of protein we should be eating daily. Many novice teenagers in the gym fall for that. Consuming 2x weight (lbs) of protein is just too much. It can lead to many different problems like:

  • Fat gain: Body will store excess protein into fat if it doesn’t require it
  • Bad Breathe and Stinky Farts: We all experienced those protein farts at one point or another. Or is it just me?
  • Kidney damage: After I successfully convinced my mom that protein is not steroids, she found an article about how excessive protein intake could lead to kidney damage. While I was not taking nearly as much protein to be considered excessive, she had a point. Too much protein can lead to excess nitrogen supply. That causes kidneys to work overtime in order to get rid of it.

These are just some problems caused by over consuming of proteins. However, you do not have to be worried about it, since you did all those calculators that we talked about above. Right?

SUMMARY:

Remember that protein shakes are not magical potions. We add supplements into our diet purely because our diet lack of it.

Question about how many protein shakes a day often arises. To answer that question we need to figure out how much proteins we should consume and how much we already are consuming.

You miss this step and listen to your “bro” at the gym and soon you will end up with kidney damage and protein farts.

Hopefully that helped and do not forget to LIFT, EAT, SLEEP and REPEAT

About the Author

Hey, my name is Ire.I am a Personal Trainer/ Strength Coach based in Stockholm, Sweden.When you don't find me in the gym, I will most likely be on a Track and Field stadium throwing around a discus.

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