Protein shakes are one of the most commonly used supplements in the nutrition world and chances are, you’ve probably had one. But do you need one every day?
Protein shakes aren’t necessary or needed for everyone but can be helpful in some cases. If you eat a well-balanced diet and include a protein source at all meals and snacks, you may not need extra supplementation.
If you have a high protein need, these shakes can really help you meet your protein goal. People who may need a little help meeting protein needs include vegetarians and vegans, athletes, and individuals who don’t naturally eat a high protein diet.
So how much protein do you need? Factors that go into calculating protein needs include your body weight, activity level, and other health conditions like injuries and kidney function. It’s most helpful to have a dietitian help you find the right protein target for you but if you’re looking for a general idea, here’s what I would recommend: If you’re in good health and not a competitive athlete or trying to increase muscle mass, you likely need around half your body weight in grams of protein though that number may not be quite high enough for some.
If you struggle to eat enough protein throughout the day, try a shake. You can find protein powders and ready to drink supplements and one isn’t superior over the other. You may like powders if you’re adding it to foods and if you prefer quick, easy and ready to go, the pre-mixed ones are helpful. Most protein shakes use whey and casein but you can find plant based protein powders like soy and pea.
Milk Based vs. Plant Based
Whey protein is a commonly used protein because it’s complete, meaning it has all 9 of the essential amino acids that your body can’t make on its own. I’d recommend first trying a whey protein supplement. If you can’t tolerate dairy or have a dairy allergy, check out a plant based supplement like Orgain or Vega. Most plant proteins aren’t complete, however some companies do a great job of making a blend of plant proteins to ensure that their protein is complete.
How much protein should my shake have?
For adults, I’d suggest grabbing a shake with 20-30 grams in it. After you check the protein, look at the calories and the added sugar. Some shakes are marketed as a protein shake but really it’s a meal replacement or has a ton of calories. You can find several protein shakes with 30 grams of protein for 160 calories or less so double check the calories in the shake.
Most shakes will likely use an artificial sweetener but some do have quite a bit of added sugar so keep an eye out for that on the label.
My favorite protein shakes
Based on nutrition facts, calories, and flavor, my top four favorites are Fairlife Core Power, Ensure Max Protein (love the cafe mocha flavor!), Vade dissolvable packs, and Premier Protein. I think these products have the best flavor for the lowest calories and they are relatively easy to find and affordable.
Before grabbing a protein shake, I would first recommend getting your protein through foods you eat for a more natural approach to nourishing your body. However, if you have dietary restrictions that make this difficult or increased protein needs, protein shakes can be extremely helpful!