How Many Calories Are In A Protein Shake? (9 Examples)

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There are several types of protein shakes, and depending on your health and fitness goal, the calories can vary widely.

So, how many calories are in a protein shake?  The number of calories in a protein shake can vary from less than 100 calories to more than 700 calories.  This depends on the ingredients and portion sizes used for the liquid, the protein powder, and any add-ons.  

I will cover many of the various options for the liquid, the protein powder, and add-ons, and who should drink what kind of protein shake and when.  I’ll also cover ready-made protein drinks for when you don’t have time or access to prepare a shake at home.

What Determines The Calories in Protein Shakes?

The calorie content of a protein shake depends primarily on the protein powder, the liquid, and any additional ingredients.

The Protein Powder

There is a very wide range of protein powders available on the market today.  They cover every dietary preference imaginable, including lactose-free, plant-based, Paleo, keto, gluten-free, organic, vegan, and more.  

The best protein powder for any one individual is largely based on personal preference and any dietary restrictions.

In general, look for the following:

  • Minimum 20g protein per 30g scoop
  • <2g fat per 30g scoop
  • <5g carbs per 30g scoop; 0g added sugars
  • Natural or no sweeteners (stevia and monk fruit are common natural sweeteners)
  • No artificial colors

With these things in mind, the average protein powder has the following nutritional content for 1 scoop (30g):

average protein powder nutritional content for 1 scoop (30g)
  • Calories: 120
  • Carbs: 2g
  • Fat: 0.5g
  • Protein: 24g
  • Sodium: 100mg

Related Article: Why Are Protein Powders So Sweet?

The Liquid

The most common liquids for mixing protein shakes are water, milk, almond milk, and juice.  Below is a table showing the nutritional information for 1 cup of each of these choices, from lowest to highest calories.

Liquid (1 cup)CaloriesCarbsSugarFatProteinSodium
Water00g0g0g0g0mg
Almond milk, unsweetened301g0g2.5g1g 125mg
Almond milk, sweetened608g7g (7g added)2.5g1g150mg
Skim milk8011g11g (0g added)0g8g110mg
1% milk11012g12g (0g added)2.5g9g120mg
Orange juice11025g20g (0g added)0g0g24mg
2% milk13012g12g (0g added)5g8g130mg
Whole milk15012g12g (0g added)8g8g120mg

As you can see, using whole milk with your protein shake compared to water can add up to 150 calories.  

Additional Ingredients

Common “add-ons” for protein shakes include fruit or vegetables, oats, and nuts or seeds.  

Generally these shakes actually require a high-speed blender to process into a protein smoothie (I personally love my Vitamix; my mother swears by her Ninja).

Add-onCaloriesCarbsSugarFatProteinSodium
Baby spinach (2 handfuls)50.8g0g0.1g0.5g13.8mg
Frozen cauliflower (85g)153g1g (0g added)0g1g15mg
Cocoa powder (1 tbsp)203g0g0.5g1g0mg
Strawberries (½ cup)276.4g3.9g (0g added)0.2g0.6g1mg
Blueberries (½ cup)4010g7g (0g added)0g1g0mg
Chia seeds (1 tbsp)606g0g 4.5g2g0mg
Shredded coconut (2 tbsp)703g1g (0g added)6g0g5mg
Rolled oats (¼ cup)7513.5g0.5g (0g added)1.5g2.5g0mg
Banana (100g)8923g12g (0g added)0.3g1.1g0mg
Peanut butter (1 tbsp)903g1g (0g added)8g3g75mg

Frozen cauliflower is an easy addition that adds bulk to the smoothie to make it thicker and creamier and more satisfying, but with minimal extra calories.

But adding peanut butter and bananas can add almost 200 calories to your protein shake.

Key Takeaway  

Now that you have the information on protein powder, liquid and optional add-ons, you can mix and match to create custom protein shakes or smoothies to meet your personal needs.

  • You can combine the higher calorie options to create a higher-calorie protein shake.  

Check out our higher calorie protein shake recipe: Banana Pudding Protein Shake.

  • You can combine the lower calorie options to create a lower-calorie protein shake. 

To learn more, check out Protein Bars vs. Shakes: Pros, Cons, & Which Is Best?

Higher Calorie Protein Shake Examples

What Is A “Higher-Calorie” Protein Shake?

A “higher-calorie” protein shake has at least 300 calories or more, and ideally a 2 to 1 carb to protein ratio (2g of carbs for every 1g of protein).

Who Should Have A Higher Calorie Protein Shake?

A higher calorie protein shake is a great option for individuals looking to bulk, gaining mass for physique and/or performance goals.  It is also recommended for individuals who are underweight and looking to gain weight for health reasons, or for people who temporarily need to have a liquid diet (e.g. after jaw surgery).

Learn more about high calorie protein shakes in my article Should Skinny Guys Use Whey Protein or Mass Gainer?

When Is the Best Time For A Higher Calorie Protein Shake?

A higher calorie protein shake is ideal to consume before, after and even during long training sessions.  It will provide the energy needed to prepare for, endure, and replenish after a workout.  

For individuals really looking to increase daily calories, the shake can also be added to existing meals and even just before bed.  It is often easier to drink calories than to eat them without feeling uncomfortably full.

Related Article: Will I Lose Muscle If I Stop Taking Whey Protein?

Examples of Higher Calorie Protein Shakes

My favorite higher-calorie protein shakes include the following:

The “Chunky Monkey” Protein Smoothie

chunky monkey protein smoothie

Combine the ingredients in the order listed in a high-speed blender and process until smooth.  

Calories: 610 (40P-77C-17F).

The “Piña Colada” Protein Smoothie

piña colada protein smoothie

Combine the ingredients in the order listed in a high-speed blender and process until smooth.  

Calories: 590 (38P-78C-14F).

The “Sticky Toffee” Protein Smoothie

Soak the quick oats in the water for up to 30 minutes before making the shake to allow them to blend more easily.  Then, combine the ingredients in the order listed in a high-speed blender and process until smooth.  

Calories: 590 (42P-84C-11F).

Related Article: Can You Put Oats In A Protein Shake? (6 Reasons Explained)

Lower Calorie Protein Shake Examples

What Is a “lower-calorie” Protein Shake?

For the purposes of this article, a “lower-calorie” protein shake has 150 calories or less, and a maximum 1:1 carb to protein ratio.

Who Should Have A Lower Calorie Protein Shake?

A lower-calorie protein shake is a great option for individuals who are looking to maintain their weight, or to lose weight.  

When Is the Best Time For A Lower Calorie Protein Shake?

A lower-calorie protein shake can be a good choice to replace a snack during the day, or to add to a meal to boost its protein content.  

A lower-calorie protein shake will likely not have enough carbohydrates to be the best choice to recover from a strenuous training session so it is not recommended as a stand-alone choice post-workout.  

It can be combined with a more filling whole-food carbohydrate option like a piece of fruit or a serving of rice for a post-workout choice that is more satiating.  Feeling full for longer is an important component to managing a calorie deficit for weight loss.

Related Article: 1000 Calorie Protein Shake (5 Weight Gain Recipes)

Examples of Lower Calorie Protein Shakes

My favourite lower-calorie protein shakes include the following:

The “Skinny Vanilla” Protein Smoothie

skinny vanilla protein smoothie

Combine the ingredients in the order listed in a high-speed blender and process until smooth.  

Calories: 110 (27P-0C-0F).  

It doesn’t get much more basic than this, but I find that blending protein powder with ice gives it a better texture than just shaking it with water, and a little salt helps to restore electrolytes and makes it more palatable.

The “Lean Green Machine” Protein Smoothie

lean green machine protein smoothie

Combine the ingredients in the order listed in a high-speed blender and process until smooth.  

Calories: 145 (31P-5C-0F).

You might just feel like Popeye after drinking this good-for-you green smoothie that’s packed with protein.

The “Banana-rama” Protein Smoothie

Combine the ingredients in the order listed in a high-speed blender and process until smooth.  

Calories: 150 (28P-12C-0F).

What Are The Calories In Ready-Made Protein Shakes?

Looking at various ready-made protein shakes, you will see that the calorie content can vary widely, from less than 100 calories (Skinnygirl Protein Shake) to more than 500 calories (Boost Very High Calorie Complete Nutritional Drink).

FeastGood’s own Brenda Peralta, a Registered Dietician, has provided this handy “cheat sheet” of the macros you should consider when buying ready-made protein drinks:

  • Carbs: Less than 25g
  • Protein: 20-25g
  • Fats: Less than 10g

However, this recommendation does not apply equally to everyone.  This is best for people looking to use ready-made protein shakes as part of cutting or maintaining their weight.

Individuals looking to gain both size and strength are recommended to focus on a 2 to 1 carb to protein ratio.  This would mean a higher carb content than listed above, i.e. 40g of carbs for 20g of protein.

Related Article: Can Teenagers Take Protein Powder? (What The Science Says)

Examples of Ready-Made Protein Shakes

My top recommendation for a lower-calorie protein shake is Orgain Clean Protein Grass-Fed Protein Shake, with the following nutritional content:

  • Calories: 130
  • Protein: 20g
  • Carbs: 11g (2g fiber; 3g added sugars)
  • Fat: 2g
  • Sodium: 240mg

A moderate calorie protein shake that can really help with meeting a higher protein goal for the day is Muscle Milk Pro Series Protein Shake, with the following nutritional content:

  • Calories: 220
  • Protein: 40g
  • Carbs: 12g (6g fiber; 0g added sugars)
  • Fat: 2.5g
  • Sodium: 160mg

A higher calorie protein shake that is recommended to assist with a calorie surplus for bulking is Ensure COMPLETE Nutrition Shake, with the following nutritional content:

  • Calories: 350 
  • Protein: 30g
  • Carbs: 42g (4g fiber; 15g added sugars)
  • Fat: 8g
  • Sodium: 240mg

The second ingredient after water is corn syrup, and this shake also contains sugar.  This means it is higher in sugar than is generally recommended by the American Heart Association, which recommends limiting added sugars to 6 tsp (25g) for women and 9 tsp (36g) for men.

As long as you make careful food choices for the rest of the day, you can still include this shake to help meet your bulking goals without exceeding the recommendations for added sugar.

To learn more about how to do that, check out: How To Gain Weight Without Eating Sugar (Sample Meal Plan).

Added Ingredients in Ready-Made Protein Shakes

The most common additives in ready-made protein shakes are sweeteners, thickening agents, preservatives, artificial colors and/or flavors, and added vitamins/minerals.  Only the sweeteners have an impact on the calorie content.

  • Sweeteners: The sweeteners used in ready-made protein shakes can either be caloric (containing calories) like glucose syrup, corn syrup, cane sugar, sugar, and glucose-fructose, or non-caloric like stevia, monkfruit extract, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, inulin, erythritol and xylitol.   

Takeaway: In general, look for <10g added sugars.  If you want lower calories, opt for non-caloric sweeteners like stevia or monkfruit.  If you want higher calories, opt for caloric sweeteners.

  • Thickening agents: To improve the texture of ready-made protein shakes, thickeners are often added.  These can include carrageenan, cellulose gel or gum, gellan gum or xanthan gum.  

Takeaway: These thickeners add negligible calories.  None of these is harmful, just be aware of what they are.

  • Preservatives: Sodium, dipotassium phosphate, tripotassium phosphate and sodium polyphosphate and other additives like these function as preservatives in ready-made protein shakes to keep them shelf-stable without refrigeration.
  • Artificial colors and flavors: artificial flavors are commonly listed as part of “natural and artificial flavors.”  Artificial colors are less common. 

Takeaway: Preservatives, artificial colors and flavors and added vitamins and minerals are common in ready-made protein shakes but they do not change the caloric content.

Related Article: Does Protein Powder Have Carbs? 8 Types of Protein Explained

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Calories Are In A Protein Shake With Water?

A protein shake with water will range from 120-250 calories based on 1 or 2 scoops of protein powder, depending on the brand of protein powder and size of the scoop.

How Many Calories Are In A Protein Shake With Milk?

A protein shake with milk will range from 200 calories for 1 cup of skim milk with 1 scoop of protein powder to 550+ calories for 2 cups of whole milk with 2 scoops of protein powder. 

How Many Calories Are In A Protein Shake With Almond Milk?

A protein shake with almond milk will range from 150 calories for 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk with 1 scoop of protein powder to 400+ calories for 2 cups of sweetened almond milk with 2 scoops of protein powder.

How Many Calories Are In A Protein Shake With Semi-Skimmed Milk?

A protein shake with semi-skimmed milk (2%) will range from 250 calories for 1 cup of semi-skimmed milk with 1 scoop of protein powder to 500+ calories for 2 cups of semi-skimmed milk with 2 scoops of protein powder.

How Many Calories Are In A Protein Shake With Banana?

A protein shake with banana will range from 200 calories for 1 scoop of protein and 1 small banana in water to 600+ calories for 2 scoops of protein and 1 large banana in 2 cups of whole milk.

How Many Calories Are In A Protein Shake With Peanut Butter?

A protein shake with peanut butter will range from 200 calories for 1 scoop of protein and 1 tbsp of peanut butter to 750+ calories for 2 scoops of protein and 2 tbsp of peanut butter in 2 cups of whole milk.

How Many Calories Are In HerbaLife Protein Shake?

HerbaLife Protein Shake calorie content will depend on what the powder is mixed with.  The recommended serving size (2 scoops / 29g) of their chocolate protein drink mix has 120 calories, and the vanilla flavour has 110 calories.

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About The Author

Lauren Graham
LAUREN GRAHAM

Lauren Graham is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She focuses on helping busy professionals balance healthy eating and purposeful movement.  Lauren has a background in competitive swimming and is currently competing as a CrossFit athlete.  She has a passion for training, teaching, and writing.