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How Much Whey Protein Should You Supplement with Per Day?
It depends on your goals, let's get into it!
Whey protein is a convenient way to increase your protein intake and supplement your natural diet.
Now should you replace ALL your protein sources with whey? NO, don't do that.
You should be getting the majority of your protein from high quality sources, grass-fed is best, but you can use high-quality whey protein powders to fill the gaps.
So, how much whey protein should you supplement with per day? We say, 20-40grams!
Keep reading and find out what works best for you!
- Protein is essential for maintaining and building lean muscle mass.
- Whey protein is a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids.
- Many factors influence your protein needs, including your activity level and choice of workout.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PROTEIN
Protein isn't just for strength and physique, it's a shit load more than that.
In fact, it's essential to proper functioning and optimal health.
Protein plays a key role in the body, serving many essential functions necessary for our overall health and meeting our protein needs is vital to maintaining healthy:
- ...and more
The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for protein, or recommended daily intake to avoid deficiency, is a minimal 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. We'll repeat that, the 0.8g recommendation is the MINIMUM recommendation for protein in order to survive, but it's not the optimal amount of protein your body needs to THRIVE.
There's a big difference there...
In fact, research indicates that most of us actually need more than that.
Protein demands can also vary from person to person based on personal factors such as age and weight, lifestyle demands, and training routines. We can meet our protein needs through various sources, including animal and plant proteins, but not all proteins are the same, here's where amino acids come in.
PROTEIN AND ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS
When ingested, protein breaks down into amino acids required for muscle building and various body functions. Amino acids are often called the "building blocks" because they’re responsible for repairing muscle tissue as it breaks down.
Amino acids are classified as essential and nonessential amino acids.
Essential means that we MUST get them from our diet as our bodies cannot produce them. There are 9 EAAs that we must get from our diets:
Nonessential means that our bodies produce these amino acids and we don't have to fully rely on getting them from our diets. There are 11 nonessential amino acids that our bodies produce:
- Aspartic Acid
- Glutamic Acid
So where do protein powders come into this...
While some supplements like whey, whey concentrate and whey protein isolate, contain all nine essential amino acids, not all protein powders do.
While you don’t have to get both types of amino acids at every meal, getting an adequate amino acid balance throughout the day is important.
Make sure your total daily protein intake is adequate for optimal functioning.
PROTEIN DOSAGES FOR ALL
1-1.2 grams per kg of ideal body weight.
We all have unique nutrition needs influenced by various factors, including the physical demands of our workouts. So how much protein does the human body need?
The average healthy adult needs around 1-1.2 grams of protein for every kilogram of ideal body weight. But those needs start creeping up when we hit the gym and need amino acids to help stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
According to a recently published paper from the International Society of Sports Nutrition, a healthy diet for most athletes should include around 1.4-2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily to optimize training and recovery.
And those numbers may fluctuate depending on the type of training (low, med, high intensity).
PROTEIN FOR ENDURANCE ATHLETES
1.2-1.4 grams per kg of body weight.
Research recommends endurance athletes consume a minimum of 1.2-1.4 grams of protein power kg of body weight.
Compared to the average intake from the paragraph above, endurance athletes need an increased amount of protein due to the increase in amino acid oxidation often seen in endurance athletes and exercise.
PROTEIN FOR STRENGTH ATHLETES
1.2-2 grams per kg of body weight.
Strength athletes can benefit from increased amounts of protein and on the higher end, this amounts to 1.2-2 grams of protein per kg of body weight.
Resistance training puts an increased demand on your muscles, requiring more protein during recovery.
A systematic review published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2016 concluded that approximately 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is sufficient protein for healthy adults during resistance exercise training.
HOW MUCH WHEY PROTEIN PER DAY TO OPTIMIZE HEALTH AND TRAINING...
Between 20-40 grams of whey should suffice.
Of course, the optimal amount of whey per day will depend on personal fascets, lifestyle habits, and training goals, but 20-40 grams puts you in the range of 1-2 protein shakes per day.
Remember that whey and protein supplements should be exactly that, "supplemental". Whether you take your protein shake in the morning or after a workout, make sure to get the brunt of your protein from high-quality, whole-food sources!
Take a look at your diet's macronutrients and fill in the gaps with whey protein supplementation.
HOW MUCH WHEY PROTEIN TO BUILD MUSCLE
If you want to gain muscle - whey protein is your best bet when it comes to protein powders.
While the recommended protein intake will vary between individuals, research points to consuming at least 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight to build muscle mass.
If you are pursuing muscle growth through strength training, you may need to consume between 1.6-2 grams per kilogram daily.
So, how much whey protein do you need to consume to build muscle?
20-40 grams - meaning 1-2 protein shakes.
If the goal is to build muscle, you'll need high protein and extra calories.
PLUS, if you're not lifting heavy shit in the gym, it's gonna be real hard to build muscle. Strength train at least 3x per week on top of a high protein diet.
HOW MUCH WHEY PROTEIN TO LOSE FAT
One thing to remember about protein-intake is that it is an absolute number, not a percentage of your daily calorie intake.
If your goal is to lose fat, your protein intake should still be high. Eating enough protein is essential to burning fat.
Clinical trials have found that high-protein diets containing more protein than the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) help with weight loss and decrease fat mass.
For fat loss, start off with a base of 1-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight.
But how much whey protein per day should one consume for weight loss?
We recommended a minimum of 20 grams. Since the goal is to lose fat, choose a high protein, low carb whey protein concentrate to help you hit your protein needs without the extra calories.
Start by calculating your protein needs and get the majority of your protein from whole foods. From there, supplement with 20 grams of whey protein concentrate per day.
Summary; determine how much protein your diet of whole foods provides. Then, use a high-quality whey protein concentrate to fill the gaps or as a meal replacement.
WHEN TO TAKE WHEY PROTEIN
Especially in the mornings since getting in a high-protein breakfast can be tough.
Whether the goal is to lose fat or build muscle, studies show that the body needs at least 30g of protein in the first meal to kick muscles into an anabolic state.
When it comes to refeed windows after a workout, it really depends on how "trained" you are.
If you're new to training and resistance workouts, make sure to get your protein shake in within 2 hours of your workout. This will help support your muscles by rebuilding fibers and improving recovery.
If you're well-trained, you don't have to be so maniacal about protein timing and refeed windows as you won't see much of a post-exercise effect when it comes to protein refeeds. Well-trained individuals should focus more on getting 3-4 high-protein meals throughout the day to keep protein intake up.
Read more about protein loading here.
3 IMPORTANT WHEY PROTEIN POWDER BENEFITS
- Increases Protein Intake
- Supports Existing Muscle
- Improves Muscle Growth and Recovery
INCREASES PROTEIN INTAKE
- Supplements Protein Intake
- Fills Diet Gaps
Including a whey protein supplement in your daily routine can help boost your overall protein intake.
Whey protein powders are a convenient and efficient way to meet your protein needs.
SUPPORTS EXISTING MUSCLE
Maintaining existing muscle mass requires consuming enough protein each day.
This is because our bodies use amino acids to repair existing muscle that breaks down from use in normal day-to-day living and physical activity.
The body can produce certain amino acids on its own, but we must obtain the others through our diet. For example, whey protein is a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids required to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
IMPROVES MUSCLE GROWTH AND RECOVERY
Whey can be used to support muscle gain and improve recovery.
Muscle breakdown occurs during strength training, but it's an important part of the process to build muscle.
Whey supplements help to increase protein intake in order to rebuild torn-down muscle tissues in order to improve muscle recovery and increase lean muscle mass.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS WHEY PROTEIN?
Whey protein is best described as a mixture of proteins isolated from milk commonly used in high-quality protein powder supplements. It’s considered a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids vital for protein synthesis and tissue repair in the human body.
WHAT IS WHEY PROTEIN GOOD FOR?
Whey protein powders can help you fill the gaps and meet your daily protein needs, which can then help increase muscle mass and strength, improve muscle recovery, and support weight loss efforts.
HOW MANY PROTEIN SHAKES A DAY?
Consuming protein shakes can be a great way to increase your daily protein intake. On average, drinking 2-3 protein shakes daily can help you meet your increased protein needs. However, your ideal number of daily whey shakes will depend on your specific individualized needs and workout routine. And, of course, a protein shake should not regularly take the place of a well-balanced meal.
DOES WHEY PROTEIN EXPIRE?
Research indicates that whey protein powders typically have a generous shelf life.
For example, one study found that whey protein can last at least 18 months when stored at room temperature with 45-65% humidity and up to nine months when stored at 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
CHOOSING A WHEY PROTEIN POWDER
Choosing the right whey powder with adequate protein content can feel overwhelming with so many options available on the market these days. But it’s worth the search because consuming enough protein can stimulate muscle growth, support weight loss if desired, and even shorten recovery time.
It’s important to choose a protein supplement that helps you meet your estimated needs without providing too much protein or skewing your other macronutrients. For example, consider a protein powder that provides at least 20 grams of whey protein concentrate per serving with minimal carbohydrate and fat content. This allows you to increase your daily protein consumption without exceeding your calorie goals.
Of course, if you are allergic or unable to tolerate whey protein sources, you should avoid whey protein. And if you follow a vegan lifestyle, plant proteins such as pea protein will be your ideal source of protein.
Protein supplementation and a proper workout routine can help increase muscle mass, boost energy expenditure, support weight loss efforts, and maximize strength. But, while it’s possible to meet our nutrition needs through protein-rich foods alone, sometimes it’s just unrealistic. Enter protein supplements.
The benefits of whey protein have long been researched, and many people rely on the high-quality protein source to maintain adequate protein intake daily. Thankfully, whey protein supplements are widely available.
Taking whey protein supplements can help you gain muscle mass, lose body fat, and reach your fitness goals. Once you find the right whey protein supplement for your needs, the next thing to decide is how much whey protein per day to consume.
If you have questions about your individualized nutrition needs, consider meeting with a registered dietitian to design a nutrition plan that supports your unique health and fitness goals.