How Many Protein Shakes A Day To Gain Muscle?
So you’ve decided that you want to bulk up and build muscle, so what next?
Well, if you are serious about building muscle and bulking up, you obviously need to be hitting the gym on a regular basis, and following an effective training program.
Building muscle is notoriously difficult, especially if you happen to do so via the natural route, without the assistance of performance-enhancing drugs and anabolic compounds.
It can take weeks, months, or even years to increase your muscle mass, but once you do begin seeing improvements, your motivation will increase to stay consistent. However, results are only possible if your diet and training regimes are effective and being followed religiously.
Once you’re satisfied that your diet is on point, you may then wish to think about using supplements, with protein powders at the top of your list.
But how many protein shakes a day should you be drinking?
Well, if you ask one person, they may tell you that one is beneficial, whereas another may say that three are beneficial, and another may even say that you don’t need them at all.
Here we’ll be attempting to clear things up once and for all as we look at protein shakes and how many protein shakes a day are optimal for maximum gains.
Protein And Muscle Growth
Before we even consider looking at protein shakes and supplements, we must first address the importance of protein for muscle growth and repair in general.
Protein is an essential macronutrient and is one of three, with the other two being carbohydrates and fat.
However, we consider protein to be the most important of the three, as it is essential for cellular health and maintenance.
We, ourselves, are actually made up of billions upon billions of tiny, microscopic cells. So, when you consider the fact that we’re made up of cells ourselves, looking after these cells should be a top priority.
On top of assisting with cellular health and function, protein is also vital for muscle growth and repair, which is why bodybuilders tend to consume such vast quantities of protein each day.
Protein is a molecule made up of amino acids that can be broken down into amino acids once it has been consumed.
Basically, if you think of protein as the primary building block for the body in general, you get a better idea of why it is so important.
Our organs, skin, and muscles are all built of proteins, not to mention that a number of hormones and chemicals within the body are also forms of proteins.
Protein plays a vital role in a process known as protein synthesis, which is where the body synthesizes new muscle proteins and tissues.
When we exercise and lift weights, muscle tissue is damaged and destroyed, and it, therefore, needs replacing in order for us to build new muscle.
Without protein synthesis, this would simply not be possible. Imagine trying to build an extension onto your home with no bricks, no wood, and no materials in general.
Well, if you think of your muscles as the house and proteins as the materials, you get a better understanding of why we need protein.
How Much Protein Do We Need Per Day?
In reality, there is no one true, definitive answer to this question, due largely to the fact that all people are different.
For example, some people may genetically be able to get away with less protein than others, so we can’t provide one definitive answer.
However, as a general guide and rule of thumb, most fitness experts tend to agree that, in order to build and maintain muscle mass, we need to consume between 1 and 1.5g of protein for every pound that we weigh in body weight.
Thus, if a person weighs in at 200 pounds, ideally they should be getting between 95g and 100g of protein each day.
I personally stick to 1 gram of protein per pound, which has served me well. Going over this number doesn’t translate into more gains for me. Equally, eating less protein than this seems to delay my recovery in between workouts.
How Much Protein In A Scoop?
I find the amount of protein in a scoop varies depending on what type of protein powder I choose.
In my experience, whey protein contains around 20 grams per serving while soy protein has about 15 grams per serving. Casein protein has around 10 grams per serving.
How Much Protein Per Serving Do You Need?
It would be very useful if we could consume all of our daily requirements of protein in just one sitting, but unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that, and sadly, the body can only process so much protein at once.
In the past, you would see bodybuilders pounding down huge plates of chicken, drinking egg whites, fish, and steak, along with various veggies, and washing it all down with a protein shake, as they believed that the more protein they could consume, the bigger they would get.
However, the body can only process a certain amount of protein at a time, which is generally between 40 and 50g at a time.
If that bodybuilder consumed over 100g of protein, around 50–60g of the protein he consumed would go to waste as the body wouldn’t be able to utilize it. Because of this, when trying to build muscle, you should aim for no more than 50g in a sitting, and even then, that may be too much.
Studies have found that in order for protein synthesis to be initiated, just 20g of protein post-workout is sufficient and allows the body to begin rebuilding new muscle tissue (1).
There is some research to suggest that between 20 and 40g of protein post-workout, can increase protein synthesis levels slightly, though the changes are far from dramatic.
How Many Protein Shakes A Day?
Protein shakes are fantastic for anybody looking to increase their lean muscle mass as they provide quick, easy, and effective ways of getting some good-quality protein into the system.
Whey protein is the most popular type of protein shake, as it is a rapidly absorbing source of protein. Whey protein is derived from cow’s milk and is a by-product created when the milk begins to turn into cheese.
The milk separates into liquid whey, which is then processed and filtered until it becomes the powder supplement that we all know and love.
Protein shakes are not designed to replace meals, so you should still ensure that most of your protein and nutrition comes from real food.
With that being said, around 2-3 protein shakes per day could be beneficial, making sure that one of those shakes is consumed immediately after you finish working out.
The other whey protein shake should be consumed between meals, and before bedtime, you may wish to consider drinking a casein protein shake.
Casein protein is also derived from milk, though casein protein is much slower to be digested and broken down.
By drinking one before bed, the protein can stay in your system for hours, constantly feeding your muscles and keeping them in a constant anabolic state.
When Is The Best Time To Drink A Protein Shake?
It’s best to consume your protein shake after a workout. This allows your body to absorb the protein faster and helps prevent muscle breakdown. If you are not going to work out that day, and when it comes to when to drink protein shakes on rest days, then consuming your protein shake before bedtime is ideal.
Protein shakes can also help to increase energy levels throughout the day; thus, I always have a shake in the morning when my body doesn’t feel like digesting a full-on meal. I find doing this keeps my energy levels sustained and prevents afternoon slumps.
What Happens When You Have Too Much Protein?
Proteins are composed of amino acids that help build muscle and repair damaged cells. They’re also used to make hormones, enzymes, antibodies, and other compounds necessary for life. However, too much protein can cause problems.
Excessive consumption of protein can lead to kidney stones (2), high blood pressure, and even cancer.
In fact, people who consume more than 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight each day have a higher risk of developing colon cancer.
Eating too many protein shakes may not be good for your health. A published study showed that consuming large amounts of protein from animal sources (like meat) can increase levels of uric acid in the blood (3). Uric acid is a waste product produced by the liver that helps remove toxins from the body. But if uric acid builds up in the blood, it can cause gout, a painful condition characterized by inflammation of the joints.
If you want to get enough protein without eating a lot of food, try using protein powder instead. Just remember to drink plenty of water while taking them.
Consuming too much protein can also affect your mood. According to research, people who eat a diet rich in protein tend to experience lower levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with happiness (4).
Some experts recommend only consuming about 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day. That means someone weighing 200 pounds should limit their daily intake to 80 grams of protein.
My favourite protein brands are Optimum Nutrition, Myprotein, and Cellucor. I find these to be among the highest-quality powders and represent excellent value.