Protein Drinks & Shakes: Are They Good for You?

Protein Drinks & Shakes: Are They Good for You?

Protein drinks and supplements in different variants are more and more often appearing in the stores. They can help us with muscle growth and with weight loss, but it's important to use them right. For a healthy organism, a varied and balanced diet is the most important thing, which cannot be replaced by protein supplements. 

What Are Proteins and Protein Shakes? 

Proteins are the basic building blocks of the human body. They are essential for building bones and body tissues (e.g. muscles), participate in practically all cellular processes (e.g. metabolic and immune reactions), provide a source of energy, assist in cell repair and help with blood cell formation.

Each protein is made up of a chain of amino acids whose type and order in the chain determines the properties of the individual proteins. There are many amino acids, but 9  are essential amino acids that we cannot make ourselves and must therefore take in from the external environment in the diet we eat. 

We get our proteins from food. High quality protein foods include eggs, milk, meat, fish, poultry and soy. The recommended daily intake of protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day (0.8/kg/d) and if you are unable to meet this need in your diet, you can take dietary supplements..

There are various types of protein supplements available on the market. You can use protein liquids - either ready-made protein drinks or capsules and powders that you mix into a form that suits you. In addition to making protein shakes, the powder can also be used in yoghurt, porridge or even pancakes. 

What is also important to distinguish is what source the protein powder comes from - animal or plant source. 

The most commonly used animal-based protein supplements contain whey or casein, which are proteins usually derived from cow's milk, and therefore are not suitable for lactose or cow protein intolerant people. In such cases, egg white protein can serve as a suitable alternative. 

Plant-based protein supplements are usually made from soy, pea, hemp or rice. However, unless the supplement is made from soy or some specific mixes of proteins of plant origin, it is usually incomplete, lacking all the essential amino acids. 

Why Are Protein Shakes Good for You?

As already mentioned above, proteins affect our bodies in a variety of ways. So let's take a look at some of them and learn how to use proteins to your advantage.

Muscle Gain 

Of course, drinking protein shakes alone won't help you gain muscle. But combining protein shakes with strength training can promote their growth while increasing physical performance and reducing recovery time. Protein supplements ensure an increase in the concentration of amino acids in the blood and thus provide the necessary material for the actual synthesis of muscle. For muscle mass growth, it is recommended to drink protein shakes after training. [1,2,3]

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Weight Loss

Protein can contribute to weight loss in several ways - for example, by affecting some of the hormones that control appetite. PPY (peptide YY) and GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide) are hormones that reduce appetite and delay the emptying of stomach contents. A high-protein diet will increase their levels after each meal, leading to a feeling of fullness, while also reducing levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. [4, 5, 6]

High-quality protein sources also promote oxidation and fat breakdown, which is associated with loss of subcutaneous and abdominal fat. This is particularly important because abdominal fat is metabolically active and promotes inflammatory processes in the body that can lead to insulin resistance and heart disease. [7, 8, 9] 

Another way protein can influence weight is by speeding up metabolism. The body burns more calories both through protein metabolism itself and because protein intake stimulates other metabolic processes, such as glucose synthesis (gluconeogenesis) [10, 11, 12, 13]. 

However, it is important to emphasize that using protein supplements alone will not cause weight loss. The ideal way to lose weight is through a calorie deficit, which can be achieved either by consuming the optimal amount of calories for your body or by increasing physical activity. The most important for a healthy organism and weight loss is a balanced diet composed of good quality foods where all the important food components are represented. 

How to Make the Most out of Protein Drinks? 

  • Use protein-only shakes. Some protein powders contain added calories or sugar. Look for 100–150 calories or fewer per serving.
  • Beware of protein supplements that are loaded with artificial flavors or colorants. Opt for natural unflavored protein powders if you want to stay away from additives.
  • If you use protein powder, beware of exceeding the maximum daily amount. In general you should avoid consuming more than 50g of protein powder per day.  [14]
  • Add protein powder to other foods, such as pancakes, oatmeal or yogurt. 
  • Don’t use it as a meal replacement. Supplements don’t contain enough nutrients or calories to be considered complete meals. 
  • Incorporate strength training at least a few times per week. It can help preserve muscle mass and promote muscle growth. 
  • Consider high protein diets as a way to get healthier, reduce hunger cravings and increase your muscle mass.

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  • Use protein supplements when your diet struggles to satisfy your body's protein needs or lacks high-protein foods. Protein supplements contain high-quality proteins that can help you gain or lose weight.
  • Check if the protein powder contains added calories or sugars, colorants or artificial flavors. 
  • Don’t substitute a meal with a protein supplement. You need a balanced diet for the proper functioning of your organism. 


[1] Pasiakos SM, McLellan TM, Lieberman HR. The effects of protein supplements on muscle mass, strength, and aerobic and anaerobic power in healthy adults: a systematic review. Sports Med. 2015;45(1):111-131. doi:10.1007/s40279-014-0242-2

[2] Tang JE, Phillips SM. Maximizing muscle protein anabolism: the role of protein quality. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2009;12(1):66-71. doi:10.1097/MCO.0b013e32831cef75

[3]Phillips SM. The science of muscle hypertrophy: making dietary protein count. Proc Nutr Soc. 2011;70(1):100-103. doi:10.1017/S002966511000399X

[4] Batterham RL, Heffron H, Kapoor S, et al. Critical role for peptide YY in protein-mediated satiation and body-weight regulation. Cell Metab. 2006;4(3):223-233. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2006.08.001

[5] Belza A, Ritz C, Sørensen MQ, Holst JJ, Rehfeld JF, Astrup A. Contribution of gastroenteropancreatic appetite hormones to protein-induced satiety. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;97(5):980-989. doi:10.3945/ajcn.112.047563

[6] Lejeune MP, Westerterp KR, Adam TC, Luscombe-Marsh ND, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Ghrelin and glucagon-like peptide 1 concentrations, 24-h satiety, and energy and substrate metabolism during a high-protein diet and measured in a respiration chamber. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;83(1):89-94. doi:10.1093/ajcn/83.1.89

[7] Halkjaer J, Tjønneland A, Thomsen BL, Overvad K, Sørensen TI. Intake of macronutrients as predictors of 5-y changes in waist circumference. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;84(4):789-797. doi:10.1093/ajcn/84.4.789

[8] Astrup A, Raben A, Geiker N. The role of higher protein diets in weight control and obesity-related comorbidities. Int J Obes (Lond). 2015;39(5):721-726. doi:10.1038/ijo.2014.216

[9] Loenneke JP, Wilson JM, Manninen AH, Wray ME, Barnes JT, Pujol TJ. Quality protein intake is inversely related with abdominal fat. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2012;9(1):5. Published 2012 Jan 27. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-9-5

[10] Pesta DH, Samuel VT. A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2014;11(1):53. Published 2014 Nov 19. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-11-53

[11] Hermsdorff HH, Volp AC, Bressan J. O perfil de macronutrientes influencia a termogênese induzida pela dieta e a ingestão calórica [Macronutrient profile affects diet-induced thermogenesis and energy intake]. Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2007;57(1):33-42.

[12] Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Nieuwenhuizen A, Tomé D, Soenen S, Weste rterp KR. Dietary protein, weight loss, and weight maintenance. Annu Rev Nutr. 2009;29:21-41. doi:10.1146/annurev-nutr-080508-141056

[13] Veldhorst MA, Westerterp KR, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Gluconeogenesis and protein-induced satiety. Br J Nutr. 2012;107(4):595-600. doi:10.1017/S0007114511003254

[14] How Much Protein Powder Is Too Much? – Ice Shaker. (n.d.). Retrieved October 11, 2022, from

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