How many protein shakes should I have?

I get asked this question a lot, mainly by the guys, so I thought I would write a quick post on it. Firstly, protein shakes aren't a necessity to achieving a muscular physique, so you don't 'need them', but they do help.

Most protein brands that I have seen, recommend you use 3-4 shakes per day, but it really does depend on your goals, your current physique, your daily diet and lifestyle. If you're someone who struggles to physically eat a lot of food (some people just can't eat that much), then shakes will definitely come in handy. Most brands tend to pack 20-25g of protein per shake, which is a good amount of protein and it's so easy to drink a shake.

If you're serious about your training, and you want to pack on serious muscle, then I would advise the 3-4 per day, unless you can get enough protein in during the course of a day through food. I want to say this now, food is always better than a protein shake, but sometimes you won't have access to a kitchen or have time to whip up a high protein meal/snack, whereas it can take seconds to down a protein shake. Lets look at it like this. Say your brand of protein powder has 20g of protein per serving. If you have 4 per day (morning, mid morning, mid afternoon, before bed) that's going to be 80g of protein and 320 overall calories. If you're aiming for on and around 200g of protein per day, you're nearly half way there through shakes, and will need around 120g of protein from food - 3 main meals per day, that's 40g protein per meal - easily doable. That's what protein shakes can do - they can easily, conveniently, cheaply increase your protein and calorie intake. It can be very expensive to get all of your nutrition requirements through food, and protein powder is a lot cheaper. But as I said, food is better, and where you can, go for food first.

As mentioned though, it does depend on your goals. If you want to get 'super jacked', then you will need a lot more nutrition, and those kind of guys will be having around 3-4 shakes per day (more than just protein in them though). If you're somebody who just wants to stay lean with some muscle tone (more of a swimmers body than full on muscle mass) then you might only need 1-2 shakes. You will need to analyse your current diet, see how much protein/calories you can get from food. Then, with your current diet, you will need to judge for yourself how well you're progressing, how fast you're recovering and how good you feel. If you find that you're not recovering that fast, or you're not seeing the results, then you could turn to protein shakes to up your protein intake. If you have a rather large budget, go for food. If you have a large budget but a super busy schedule, then you'll be able to buy the premium protein brands. If you're a super busy person but on a tighter budget, then protein shakes will definitely help.

Everybody is different, so everybody will need different amounts of protein, as well as carbs and fats. You don't want to overdo protein shakes, or protein intake overall for that matter. It's all trial and error, you need to find out what your own body needs. But for an average guideline, I would say 3-4 shakes for those who want to add serious muscle mass. For those people who just want to be 'in shape', 1-2 should be fine - or maybe none, depending on your diet and your goals.

I hope that gives you a bit of information and help. Protein shakes can be overwhelming to those who are new to them.

Lee Gregory Fitness

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