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  • Writer's pictureAntonella Volpicelli

Can I have 2 meal replacement shakes a day?

Protein shakes have grown in popularity, yet we can’t help but wonder if protein in liquid form is the best, or even healthiest, way to meet our protein needs. Knowing how protein works in your body is key to understanding if protein shakes would benefit you. You may be wondering - What happens if I consume protein shakes instead of real food? Can they help me lose weight? Can they be dangerous for my body?

The reality is that there is so much contradictory information about protein shakes. That’s why we’ve compiled the facts to answer your burning questions about protein shakes. Remember, overall diet quality should be the primary focus for proper nutrition. And let’s be real, as delicious as a chocolate protein shake sounds, so does a warm meal, right?

Now, let’s get back to protein - how will your body react if you drank two protein shakes a day?

Let’s get to learning!

A protein powder scoop next to a protein shake in a cup and bottle shaker.

What is the purpose of protein shakes?

First, let’s tackle a bigger question - What is protein, and what is its role in the human body?

  • Protein is one of the three main macronutrients (aka. nutrients needed in larger amounts for daily life activities and healthy living). Protein is made up of chemical building blocks called “amino acids,” which are actually the main building blocks of muscle, bones, tissue, cartilage, and skin. Without protein in our diets, we would lose muscle mass and our cells would eventually stop functioning.

Another important question before moving on would be, how much protein do you actually need?

  • Protein needs vary depending on numerous factors. Your age, stage of life, body weight, health status, and physical activity all influence the amount of protein you need. If you are an otherwise healthy adult, 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight (0.8 g/kg body weight) is recommended. If you’re extremely physically active or if you’re sick, then those needs can increase to up to 1 gram per pound (around 2 grams/kg of body weight).

Now that we know the basics of proteins, let’s talk a bit about some common sources of this macronutrient (yes, including protein shakes).

Protein can either come from animal sources, such as fish, chicken, meats, yogurt, and cottage cheese; or it can come from plant-based sources, such as whole grains, nuts, and tofu.

What about protein powders?

Protein powders can be made from either animal protein or plant protein. One of the most common animal-sourced protein powders is whey protein, a component of cow’s milk. A popular plant-sourced protein powder is soy protein isolate, which comes from soy sources just as the name says.

Alright, you are a big expert on protein now, so let’s tackle one last question - What is the purpose of protein shakes?

As discussed before, protein is needed in large amounts for healthy living - another way of picturing this is that protein should be a part of all of your meals (snacks are acceptable too!) and there are many situations where a protein shake calls to be the go-to:

  • Life can sometimes be fast-paced, and in these situations, a protein shake can actually help meet those protein needs in an easy way - pour, shake and drink!

  • Post-workout ritual? As you now know, protein is needed for the growth, repair, and maintenance of muscle, which is why a post-workout protein proves to be beneficial when you’re going for muscle gain.

  • Food is fuel, therefore, protein is fuel - so, ensuring you’re getting enough protein through protein shakes can help also with overall physical and even mental performance!

Can you lose weight drinking 2 protein shakes a day?

Now you know that protein shakes are meant to help you meet your protein needs rather than replace food. Nevertheless, you may still wonder whether protein shakes may help you lose weight, and the truth is more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no.” Protein shakes may help reduce overall appetite, which can lead to fewer hunger cues. Fewer hunger cues = less eating = less caloric intake = potential weight loss. But, is this the right way to lose weight in the long term? Not so much…

Protein shakes are not a golden ticket to weight loss.

Drinking two protein shakes a day can actually add extra calories to your diet. Consuming two protein shakes a day without adjusting the rest of your diet could actually lead to weight gain. Protein shakes are not a guaranteed ticket to weight loss. If you would like to achieve long-term weight loss, begin by assessing your dietary habits as a whole.

Two protein shakes a day is not sustainable.

Sustainable habits are key to achieving long-term weight loss. Could you drink two protein shakes every day for the rest of your life? Even if you lost weight from replacing meals with protein shakes, you’re at risk of gaining all the weight back plus more as soon as you ditch the protein shakes for regular food. If you’re looking for a weight loss solution, the best solution encourages healthy eating habits that you can take with you through the rest of your life.

Protein shakes may actually harm your health.

Research actually shows that a whole foods diet is the best route to good health. Protein shakes are usually highly processed foods. Processing is required to isolate the protein from its source, dehydrate and pulverize it into a powder, and flavor the mixture. Nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals, are lost in the process as well. Although drinking two protein shakes a day may leave you feeling full and satisfied, if these shakes replace meals, you may be missing out on key nutrients from whole foods.

Short answer?

Simply drinking more protein shakes won’t help you lose weight on its own.

If it’s weight loss you’re going for, here’s a tip. Discuss your weight loss journey with a nutritional professional to secure a plan that does work for you, and that works for you in the long-term.

What happens if you drink protein shakes without working out?

You may be wondering - What happens if I drink protein shakes without working out? Could I gain weight? Is it possible to consume too much protein?

As discussed earlier in the article, people opt to drink protein shakes as it helps them not only reach their daily protein needs but also help with muscle growth, repair, and maintenance. Yes – protein shakes do seem to be strongly associated with the gym. But whether or not you work out, protein shakes can be an easy way to meet your daily protein needs.

Now, will you gain weight if you don’t work out but drink protein shakes? Not necessarily. But it won’t help lose weight either.

This is where personal daily protein needs come into play. If you do not exceed your protein needs and your overall diet is packed with healthy and whole foods, there should not be any weight gain.

Now, when there is an excess of protein in your diet, those extra calories could result in some weight gain rather than muscle gain. Remember, in order to gain muscle, physical activity must occur. This is due to a cellular process where muscle fibers from damaged muscle are repaired, ultimately building muscle by forming new protein strands.

In addition to this, overconsumption of protein can lead to kidney damage. The kidneys are not only responsible for urine production, but they metabolize protein, too.

Excess protein intake can overload your kidneys, ultimately leading to kidney damage. If you’re looking to increase protein in your diet, be careful to keep an eye on how you’re meeting (and hopefully not exceeding) your protein needs! This is true whether you work out or not. Don’t be too alarmed – kidney damage due to excess protein intake would only occur if you go way overboard on protein consumption through the diet and/or protein shakes.

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