Whey protein is the most convenient way to add more protein to your diet, but overconsuming it has potential consequences. Before you start drinking it every day, there are some things you should know.
- You can drink whey protein daily if it’s the difference between consuming enough protein to hit your daily target, especially if you’re an active individual with higher protein requirements.
- However, some people experience digestive issues when consuming a lot of whey protein. As such, you should prioritize whole food sources of protein when possible.
- Although whey protein is a great option when you’re not getting enough protein from whole foods, there is such a thing as overdoing it. It’s essential to know how much whey is safe to consume.
3 Benefits of Drinking Whey Protein Every Day
The benefits of drinking whey protein every day are:
1. Increased Potential for Muscle Retention/Gain
One of the main benefits of drinking whey protein every day is that it increases your potential for muscle retention and muscle gain because it helps to increase your protein intake by around 25 to 30 grams.
When you’re bulking, an adequate protein intake is the difference between maintaining muscle or gaining muscle. Similarly, when you’re cutting calories, an adequate protein intake is the difference between losing muscle or maintaining muscle.
2. Increased Satiety
Another benefit of consuming whey protein every day is that it helps to keep you more satiated, which is extremely important when you’re dieting and you have to fill up on fewer calories.
An adequate protein intake helps to regulate your hunger hormones by helping to turn off your hunger hormone “ghrelin” and increasing your satiety hormone “leptin.”
The more satisfied you feel, the easier it will be to stick to your diet, and the better your fat loss results will be.
- Related Article: Should You Eat More Protein On Rest Days? (Science-Backed)
3. Conveniently Increased Protein Intake
Drinking whey protein every day is also beneficial for conveniently increasing your protein intake because other high-protein foods require you to sit down to eat them and generally need to be prepared ahead of time.
When you run out of whole food protein sources or there’s nothing cooked (chicken, beef, eggs), it’s easier to reach for a whey protein shake that takes less than a minute to throw together.
If you’re too lazy to cook or you’re on the go, the convenience factor of drinking whey protein every day is just what you need to help you reach your protein goals.
- Related Aricle: Drinking Whey Protein On An Empty Stomach
Are There Drawbacks of Drinking Whey Protein Every Day?
The potential side effects of drinking whey protein every day are:
When consuming whey protein every day, there is an increased potential for nutrient deficiencies, especially if you’re overconsuming protein powder and under-consuming whole foods sources of protein (i.e. drinking upward of 4 protein shakes per day).
Whole food protein sources like chicken, Greek yogurt, fish, and eggs all have essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs in addition to protein. Protein supplements like whey protein don’t contain these essential nutrients.
If you’re not getting enough nutrients from whole foods, you can become deficient and experience symptoms of fatigue, lethargy, delayed healing, hair loss, etc.
- Related Article: How To Increase Protein Intake Without Protein Powder
When consuming whey protein powder, there is always a chance that you’re consuming substances you don’t intend to consume because supplements aren’t monitored as closely by the FDA as packaged foods are.
It’s not uncommon for supplement companies to use cheap fillers in their products that don’t contribute to the protein content of the product to cut costs. So when you’re consuming protein powder more often, you could be increasing your consumption of unknown substances.
The last potential side effect of drinking whey protein every day is an increase in nausea and digestive issues because whey protein powder has ingredients that many people are sensitive to, like dairy, lactose, and artificial sweeteners.
If you’re sensitive to one or more of these ingredients but only have whey protein every once in a while, it may not be a big deal. However, if you’re dealing with these issues and drinking whey protein every day, it could be more serious.
- Related Article: Can You Survive on Protein Shakes? (We Explain What Happens)
How To Decide Whether You Should Drink Whey Protein Daily or Not
You should consider drinking protein every day if you’re:
Always On the Go
If you’re always on the go, drinking whey protein every day is a good idea. Otherwise, you may not consume enough calories or protein to keep your body functioning optimally.
Instead of skipping meals and snacks or reaching for a lower quality option that isn’t high enough in protein, you should consider having a protein shake instead, preferably paired with fruit like an apple or banana to increase the nutrient content.
- Related Article: Can You Take Whey Protein Without Working Out? (Science-Backed)
Not Meeting Your Protein Goals
If you’re struggling to meet your protein goals (1g of protein/lb bodyweight), having daily protein shakes is recommended because it will increase your protein intake by at least 25 grams.
Consuming an adequate amount of protein is important regardless of your goals (lose weight, maintain weight, or gain weight) to preserve muscle mass or gain more muscle.
Although most of your protein should come from whole food sources, having a protein shake can help to get you closer to your protein goals.
- Check Out: Whey Protein Intake Calculator
Struggling To Eat Enough Calories
If you have a higher caloric intake that makes it challenging to consume enough calories to support your goals, it’s worth having whey protein every day in a shake combined with sources of carbs and fats to increase your caloric intake.
Liquid calories are easier to digest, so drinking more of your calories in a shake can help you to increase your intake without feeling overly full.
Additionally, when your caloric intake is higher, your protein intake is generally higher as well, so having a liquid meal that has a protein source like whey protein is also very helpful.
My favorite high-calorie protein shake is a PB&J shake:
- 1.5 scoops vanilla whey protein
- 1-2 cups of frozen berries
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- ¼ cup oats
- 1-1.5 cups milk
Who Should Be Drinking Whey Protein Every Day?
- Those who struggle to eat enough calories: Having a whey protein shake every day can help to increase your caloric intake, especially when combined with sources of carbs and fats.
- Those who are dieting on lower calories: A low-calorie diet typically restricts carbs and/or fats and prioritizes protein, which makes whey protein an excellent option because it’s high in protein but low in carbs and fats. Additionally, it will help to keep you full for longer, so it should be a daily staple.
- Those who don’t have time to eat meals: Drinking whey protein while you’re on the move is much more efficient than trying to sit down and eat a meal. If you’re often on the go, having whey protein every day is a good idea.
Who Should NOT Be Drinking Whey Protein Every Day?
- Those who get constipated from overconsuming protein powder: If you become constipated when consuming protein powder regularly, it’s best to avoid drinking protein powder every day.
- Those who get diarrhea from consuming protein powder: If you experience diarrhea with protein powder, it’s not worth having it every day.
- Those who have no trouble getting enough protein from whole foods: If you’re meeting your protein needs with whole foods most days, there’s no need for you to include protein powder every day because you’re already consuming enough protein.
How Much Whey Protein Is Safe To Drink Daily?
It’s safe to drink whey protein daily as long as you’re consuming enough whole foods to support your health. Whole foods provide vitamins and minerals that are required for your body to function optimally.
How much whey protein you should consume daily will depend on how much protein you should be consuming per day and how much you’re currently consuming from whole food sources.
I recommend that you consume 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight to ensure you’re consuming enough protein to maintain your muscle mass and support bodily functions.
For example, if you weigh 160lbs, you should aim for 160g of protein per day.
Next, you should determine how much protein you’ve been consuming from whole food sources of protein by tracking your macros in an app like MacroFactor.
If you determine that you’ve been eating less protein than is recommended based on your body weight, it’s worth adding protein powder to the mix. Protein powder generally has between 20g to 30g of protein per scoop, depending on the brand.
If you’ve been eating 130g of protein every day and your goal is 160g, one scoop of protein would be sufficient. If you’ve been eating closer to 100g of protein and your goal is 160g, you could consider 2 scoops of protein to get you there.
- Related Article: 1 or 2 Scoops of Protein Powder: How Much Is Right For You?
However, if you’re more than 60g away (more than 2 scoops) from your protein goal, I recommend you add another whole food source, if possible, along with your protein powder so you’re still getting enough nutrients from whole foods instead of relying too heavily on protein powder.
3 Mistakes To Avoid When Drinking Whey Protein Every Day
The mistakes to avoid when drinking whey protein every day are:
1. Having More Protein Sources From Whey Protein Than Whole Food
If you’re consuming more protein from whey protein than whole food sources of protein, your likelihood of becoming deficient in key nutrients will increase.
Even though whey protein can be extremely helpful, it cannot compete with whole food sources of protein, which have vitamins and minerals that are essential for your health.
Whey protein is good in a pinch and meant to be used when whole food sources aren’t available or convenient, but you should still aim to consume more of your protein from whole food protein sources.
2. Using Protein by Itself as a Meal Replacement
Oftentimes when people get busy, they’ll reach for a protein shake (protein + water/milk) as a meal replacement, but this is a mistake because a basic protein shake doesn’t have all of the nutrients that are required for a balanced meal.
A balanced meal should have a source of protein, carbs, fats, and color (fruits and vegetables). A balanced meal is ideal because meals that have all of these nutrients will prevent nutrient deficiencies, provide you with energy, and keep you satisfied longer.
If you were to only have protein powder mixed with water or milk, you’d be missing out on almost all of the other nutrients besides protein. A basic whey protein shake should only be used as a snack to help hold you over to your next meal and shouldn’t replace a meal.
However, if you were to add more nutrients to your whey protein shake, it could be a meal replacement.
You would need to add:
- Carbs (oats, fruit juice)
- Fat (flaxseeds, nut butter)
- Color (fruit, greens)
3. Buying Protein Powders That Aren’t Third-Party Tested
Another mistake people make when drinking whey protein every day is using a protein powder that isn’t third-party tested because they may not even be getting a quality source of protein in sufficient quantities.
Supplements that aren’t third-party tested have not been tested to see if their label is accurate, if they actually contain the ingredients that it claims to contain, or if the quality is as good as they say.
If it’s not being tested by a third party, then you’re really just crossing your fingers and hoping that the company is being truthful, which is why I only buy protein powders online that are third-party tested.
I prefer brands that are being held accountable to tell the truth about what’s in their product, the true quality of their ingredients, and how much protein their protein powder provides.
What To Read Next
- 2 Protein Shakes A Day: Pros, Cons, & Should You Do It
- 3 Protein Shakes A Day: Pros, Cons, & Should You Do It
- Is It Okay To Have Protein Bars Every Day?
- How Long Does Whey Protein Take To Digest + Why It Matters
- Protein Shake Fast: What Is It + 6 Reasons NOT To Do One
Wendy AM Blom and others, Effect of a high-protein breakfast on the postprandial ghrelin response, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 83, Issue 2, February 2006, Pages 211–220, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/83.2.211
Gupta, U. C., & Gupta, S. C. (2014). Sources and Deficiency Diseases of Mineral Nutrients in Human Health and Nutrition: A Review. Pedosphere, 24(1), 13-38. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1002-0160(13)60077-6.
Guo, E. L., & Katta, R. (2017). Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Dermatology practical & conceptual, 7(1), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.5826/dpc.0701a01
About The Author
Amanda Parker is an author, nutrition coach, and Certified Naturopath. She works with bodybuilders, Olympic weightlifters, and powerlifters to increase performance through nutrition and lifestyle coaching.
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