Adequate protein intake is essential to everyday life, but athletes looking to improve their performance and build muscle have even more reason to meet their daily needs.
Protein shakes have become an efficient way to boost your nutrition, no matter your fitness goals.
To make the most of your protein supplements, you might be wondering what ingredients to look for and how many protein shakes you need each day.
This article will take a look at the benefits that different protein shakes provide and how to incorporate them into your balanced diet.
HOW PROTEIN SHAKES INCREASE PROTEIN INTAKE TO BENEFIT YOU...
- Builds Muscle Mass
- Maintains and Supports Existing Muscle Mass
- Improves Muscle Recovery
- Aids in Weight Loss
- Increases Overall Protein Intake
The average person eats enough protein to prevent deficiency, but the minimum recommended protein intake really isn’t enough to maximize your fitness goals. By helping athletes increase their protein intake, protein shakes also help to:
BUILDS MUSCLE MASS
You can put in the sweat and crush your workouts at the gym, but the journey to building muscle doesn’t stop there.
Along with your consistent workouts, consuming enough protein is essential for building muscle and increasing strength.
MAINTAINS AND SUPPORTS EXISTING MUSCLE MASS
Protein is not only essential for building muscle, but it is also crucial for maintaining and supporting existing muscle.
If dietary protein is in short supply, your body will take protein from the skeletal muscle to support other important body tissues and functions.
Chronically inadequate protein intake can put you at risk for muscle loss or wasting, and keep you from reaching your fitness goals.
IMPROVES MUSCLE RECOVERY
During your workouts, you break down muscle cells and damage your muscle tissue.
To rebuild and prepare yourself for the next workout, you have to replace the protein that was lost and give your body building blocks, or amino acids, to repair itself.
A post-workout protein shake provides various amino acids required for muscle recovery and helps you get ready for your next gym session.
AIDS IN WEIGHT LOSS
If you are looking to lose weight, adequate daily protein intake is essential.
The protein in your shakes can help you feel fuller longer, which helps you moderate your calorie intake throughout the day and help with body weight management.
INCREASES OVERALL PROTEIN INTAKE
Many health goals rely on sufficient protein intake. Whether your goal is to lose weight or gain muscle, it’s likely that increasing your total daily protein intake will be helpful.
Meeting your daily protein needs through whole food protein sources alone can sometimes be difficult. Life is busy and sometimes a sit down meal is out of reach.
Drinking protein shakes is an efficient and tasty way to increase your protein intake even when cooking is not an option.
HOW MANY PROTEIN SHAKES DO YOU NEED A DAY?
Drinking protein shakes is an excellent way to boost your daily diet and bring you closer to your goals, but you might be worried that excess protein will have a negative effect.
How much protein powder or how many protein shakes a day do you need? That answer depends on your individual nutrition needs, which can be affected by several factors.
If you’re not sure how much protein you need, you can try our free protein calculator.
Once you know your target daily protein intake, you’ll want to plan the majority of your intake around protein-rich foods and drink protein shakes between your meals.
Protein shakes are both convenient and efficient when trying to increase your daily intake, but it’s important to prioritize whole food protein sources before relying on dietary supplements to make sure you consume a variety of other nutrients as well.
Protein-rich foods such as chicken breast, steak, or fish offer a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that are essential to a healthy diet.
By attentively incorporating protein shakes into your diet, you can reap the benefits of increased protein and other nutrients without consuming excess calories.
While everyone’s nutrition needs vary significantly, a maximum of 2-3 protein shakes a day is the typical recommendation for normal, healthy individuals.
Drinking too many protein supplements may affect your intake at meals or they may add up to more than your body can process.
The body isn’t able to store extra protein for later use, rather it is just stored as body fat.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR PROTEIN SHAKE
Most healthy individuals are diligent about the foods they eat- trying to eat mostly whole foods while avoiding or limiting processed foods. It’s important to be just as diligent with your protein supplementation as not all protein products are created equal.
Common types of protein shakes include:
Animal-based protein powders typically contain more protein than plant-based powders, and they can provide the nine essential amino acids that the human body cannot produce on its own.
If your goal is to consume as much protein as possible, a supplement with eggs, casein, or whey protein might be your best choice.
Plant-based protein supplements can be made from a variety of sources such as pea protein and brown rice protein.
Very few plants contain all nine essential amino acids, so in order to provide a complete protein, most plant-based protein supplements are actually a blend of multiple protein sources.
Pea protein, however, actually does contain all nine essential amino acids.
Brown rice protein is not considered a complete protein as it lacks the amino acid lysine, but research has shown its muscle-building capacities very closely resemble those of whey protein powder.
Protein concentrates have gone through less processing than other protein powders.
Extracted from whole foods, concentrates typically contain 60-80% protein and 20-40% carbohydrates and fats.
Protein isolates have undergone additional filtering to remove more fats and carbs when compared to concentrates.
Isolate powders are known to contain 90-95% protein leaving behind a very small amount of carbs and fats.
Hydrolysates are a "predigested" form of protein that has undergone a process of hydrolysis, which uses heat and enzymes to break down amino acids.
By doing this, hydrolysates are known to be easily absorbed and digested allowing your body to use them quicker.
HOW TO USE PROTEIN SHAKES
Nutrition needs and fitness goals are very individualized, so incorporating protein shakes into a balanced diet will look different from person to person. Understanding how your protein powders support you as you work towards your goals helps you to maximize their benefits.
PROTEIN SHAKES TO BUILD MUSCLE MASS
Muscle protein breakdown occurs as a result of protein lost during intense exercise. However, it’s not as ominous as it sounds.
When muscles are damaged, they build back even larger. That is, as long as you eat enough calories and protein to support that muscle growth.
A recent systematic review showed a positive relationship between exercise and protein supplements when trying to build muscle, and another study showed whey protein specifically contributed to increased muscle mass.
Gaining weight by adding lean mass requires quality protein consumption in addition to your consistent workouts.
Drinking a protein shake after a workout is a great way to get the essential amino acids needed for gaining muscle mass.
PROTEIN SHAKES TO IMPROVE MUSCLE RECOVERY
Protein shakes are also a great tool for supporting muscle protein synthesis, or muscle recovery, after your workout. In fact, muscle protein synthesis counteracts the muscle breakdown that occurs during exercise.
Although, when it comes to post-exercise nutrition, protein often gets most of the hype. However, carbohydrates play an important role too.
Finding a protein shake that includes carbohydrates can help stimulate muscle recovery efficiently.
A protein powder with a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein has been found to help quickly replenish energy stores after a tough workout.
PROTEIN SHAKES TO INCREASE PROTEIN INTAKE
There are many reasons to increase your overall daily protein intake, but it can be difficult to consume adequate protein through whole foods alone.
Drinking protein shakes daily is a super convenient way to increase your high-quality protein sources and disperse your intake throughout the day to maximize benefits.
Your body can only digest so much protein in one sitting.
In fact, a recent study found that spacing your protein consumption throughout the day led to more muscle growth when compared to diets that specifically had more protein at dinner than breakfast. .
PROTEIN SHAKES TO AID IN WEIGHT LOSS
If losing weight is your goal, it is crucial to meet your protein needs.
Research has consistently shown a connection between high-protein diets and bodyweight management. Choosing a protein powder with high-protein and low-carbohydrate content further supports those findings.
Consuming adequate protein will help you lose body weight without losing muscle. In fact, if you aim to gain muscle while losing weight, you will need to consume even more protein.
Additionally, protein helps with appetite control between meals by encouraging feelings of fullness.
Increased protein intake has been shown to help improve perceived satiety throughout the day.
Furthermore, other studies have confirmed protein’s role in weight management by examining weight gain related to insufficient protein intake. In your body’s attempt to rebuild its protein stores, you may see weight gain or a plateau in your weight loss.
Protein shakes can be a staple when it comes to reaching your fitness goals. Whether you aim to lose weight, gain muscle, or focus on your recovery, adequate protein intake is key.
When planning your protein shake schedule, you might wonder how much protein is too much protein? Or, how many protein shakes a day do you need?
The general recommendation is a maximum of 2-3 protein shakes a day. However, it’s also important to remember that nutrition needs are extremely individualized.
Once you know your recommended daily protein intake, start with a balanced diet of whole foods. Consuming protein from a variety of sources helps you incorporate various amino acids into your diet as well as a variety of other nutrients.
Then, incorporate your trusted protein powder. It’s best to consume protein throughout the day, so aim to drink a protein shake between meals. You may even find that using more than one protein helps you maximize your work and your recovery.
Of course, before trying a new dietary supplement, it’s best to speak with your doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist about your nutrition needs.