If you’ve ever stepped foot in a gym, you have probably wondered;
- if you need a protein supplement
- how many protein shakes a day you need
Depending upon your fitness goals will depend on how much protein you need each day.
I’m a bodybuilder, so i follow a high protein diet. I eat around 300 grams of protein a day to recover from workouts and build muscle.
Protein shakes help me hit my protein intake each day.
But how many protein shakes a day do you need?
In this article I’m going to cover how many protein shakes a day you can have a day – depending upon your fitness goals and lifestyle.
But before I get into how many you can have, I want to tell you.
You do not need protein shakes.
They’re a huge help if you follow a high protein diet. But I want to stress that you do not need protein supplements.
You should be more concerned with your total protein intake, not the number of protein shakes you drink a day.
As a general rule of thumb, you should have 0.8-1gram of protein per lb of body weight to maintain and build muscle.
If you’re a bodybuilder, you may want to aim for as high as 1.5-2grams of protein per lb of body weight. Read this to find out how much protein you need to build muscle.
I drink protein shakes most days, to help me hit my daily protein requirements. If im prepping for a bodybuilding show, I try to limit the number of shakes I drink each day.
Because whole foods are more satiating than shakes. So if im hungry, id rather eat food than drink shakes. But I’ll cover this in more detail below.
Let’s jump in to how many protein shakes a day you can (or should) have.
How many Protein Shakes a Day is Healthy?
You can drink as many protein shakes in one day as you like. There is no supporting evidence to suggest that drinking too many shakes in one day will have any long-term detrimental health effects. Most people will drink between 1 and 3 shakes to help supplement their protein intake.
I’ve actually written an article answering “Can I drink 2 protein shakes a day” – but the short answer is that you can.
How Many Protein Shakes a Day is Too Much
There is no set rule on how many protein shakes a day is too much. However, unless you’re following a liquid diet (which I personally wouldn’t recommend, but I do cover below in this article) I wouldn’t recommend more than 3 protein shakes a day.
Because protein shakes are a food supplement, not a whole food.
As a bodybuilder, I eat every 2-3 hours. This means I typically eat 6 meals a day.
I drink protein shakes in between meals to supplement my protein intake. Not to replace my meals.
A typical day of eating for me may look like;
- Breakfast – eggs & oats
- Protein shake
- Chicken and Rice
- Beef and Rice
- Post workout shake
- Chicken and Rice
That would be 2 shakes through the day.
How many protein shakes should you have a day? That depends on your appetite. If you’re a big eater, go for whole foods.
If you don’t have a big appetite I would recommend that you have 3 protein shakes a day, in between meals. If you’re consuming more protein shakes than you are meals, that would be too much in one day.
How Many Protein Shakes a Day To Gain Weight
To gain weight and build muscle, you need to be in a caloric surplus. Assuming your protein shake consumption puts you in a calorie surplus, then you can drink as many protein shakes as you like a day, to gain weight.
When bulking, you will need more calories. This can be hard to get from just whole foods.
Personally, I would try and cap the number of protein shakes I drink at no more than 3 per day. However, you may want to drink more protein shakes each day if you need more calories.
How Many Protein Shakes a Day To Build Muscle
If your goal is to build muscle, then not only do you need enough protein, but you also need enough carbs, fats and total calories. A simple protein shake may not provide enough calories to help you hit your daily macro requirements.
If you need to add more calories to your protein shake, you can follow my 1000 calorie homemade mass gainer recipe.
How Many Protein Shakes Do Bodybuilder Drink a Day
When prepping for a bodybuilding contest, bodybuilders would typically only drink 1 protein shake a day post workout. When bulking, a bodybuilder may drink 3 or more protein shakes a day.
When I’m bulking, I’ll typically have up to 3 protein shakes a day. One of these will be mixed with creatine and dextrose to make a post workout shake.
How Many Protein Shakes a Day to Lose Weight
You should drink no more than 2 protein shakes a day to lose weight. This is because, when dieting to lose weight, you will need to be in a calorie deficit and will be hungrier more often. Whole food meals will make you feel fuller for longer. Limiting your protein shake consumption to 1 or 2 drinks a day will mean you can eat more whole foods.
How Many Protein Shakes a Day When Cutting
If you are not in a calorie deficit, the number of shakes you drink a day is irrelevant. If you’re following a cutting diet – the most important thing is to ensure you are burning more calories than you consume.
Because shakes won’t fill you up as much as whole foods, I would limit my liquid calorie consumption to no more than 2 protein shakes a day.
How to Create a Calorie Deficit
WebMD posted this article explaining how many calories you need each day to maintain your body wieght, based on your height, weight and age.
All you need to do is deduct 10% from the total calories to create a deficit.
If you need 2800 calories a day to maintain your body weight, deduct 280 calories. This gives you a daily calorie requirement of 2520.
How Many Protein Shakes a Day When Working Out
If you work out, you will be more likely to drink protein shakes compared to someone who does not exercise. Anywhere from 1-3 protein shakes will be enough to help you hit your protein requirements.
You don’t just need protein shakes when bodybuilding. You can benefit from drinking protein supplements, no matter what kind of workout you do.
The important thing to think about is your total protein intake – not the number of protein shakes you drink each day.
How Many Protein Shakes a Day For a Woman
There is no difference between how many protein shakes a woman should drink in one day compared to a man. The number of protein shakes a woman needs a day will depends upon her daily protein requirements. If you’re a female, follow the steps above to calculate how much protein you need each day.
I want to stress, the total amount of protein you consume each day is more important than the number of protein shakes you drink a day.
Calculate how much protein you need, and if it’s too high to consume from just whole foods, drink shakes to help you hit your protein requirement.
How Many Protein Shakes a Day on a Liquid Diet
If you’re following a liquid diet, you are going to need to drink 4-6 protein shakes a day. This is because your protein shakes are essentially meal replacements.
That being said – I would never recommend a liquid diet to anyone. Healthline have a great article about liquid diets which I would suggest you read.
I have helped prep clients for bodybuilding shows and helped clients lose fat. I have never recommended a liquid diet to any client and I have never followed a liquid diet myself.
If you are following a liquid diet, you’re going to be drinking protein shakes for every meal. You may want to mix up the protein sources, from whey to casein. It would probably make sense to use a Myprotein discount code to get your protein for as cheap as possible as you’ll be going through a lot of protein shakes.
How Many Protein Shakes a Day On Keto
I would not consume any protein shakes on Keto. This is because calories and food choices are so limited on Keto, I would much prefer to eat food than drink shakes, to feel satiated.
You can drink as many protein shakes as you like when following a Keto diet however. This depends on your personal preference.
How Many Protein Shakes Should You Have?
I’ve covered a ton in this article. The key takeaway is to focus on total protein content (and total calories) to reach your goals. Not the total number of protein shakes a day you should be drinking.
Look at protein shakes as a food supplement, aimed to help you hit your protein requirement. You can drink as many shakes a day as you like to help you hit your protein requirements.
I personally would not recommend drinking more protein shakes than you would eat meals however.
This means if you eat 5 meals a day, make 3 whole foods, and 2 shakes. But this is just my preference. You may want to eat 2 meals and drink 2 protein shakes a day.