The whey protein calculator helps determine how much whey protein you should take per day based on your daily protein requirements.
It’s important to consume most of your protein from whole food sources to avoid becoming deficient in key nutrients that whole foods have to offer.
Therefore, whey protein consumption should be limited to around 20% of your protein intake on a daily basis. There may be some days that you consume more than this (up to 30% for example), but the goal should be to stay within this recommendation as much as possible.
For more information on prioritizing whole food sources of protein, check out our article on How To Increase Protein Without Protein Powder.
How Do We Calculate Your Whey Protein Powder Intake?
Your daily protein intake from whey protein powder should be around 20% of your total daily intake. If you already have a protein target set then we will use this target to calculate 20% of your intake.
If you don’t know how much protein you should be eating per day, then we use the recommended 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight and take 20% of this protein target to determine how much protein powder you can consume.
For example, if you currently weigh 160 lbs, then we will suggest a daily protein intake of 160 grams per day.
To determine an appropriate amount of whey protein powder based on this daily protein intake, we would take 20% of 160 grams, which is 48 grams.
The average scoop of whey protein powder has around 25 grams of protein, so this would mean consuming no more than 2 scoops of protein per day.
It should be noted that 20% of your total daily protein intake is the recommended amount of protein powder per day; however, the upper limit for protein powder consumption is 1/3 (33%) of your total protein intake.
Should Whey Protein Powder Intake Change Based On Male or Female?
No, whey protein powder intake recommendations do not change based on your sex. The most important considerations are your body weight and your activity level. Our recommendations of 1g/lb BW for daily protein intake assume that you have an active lifestyle that includes regular exercise.
If you are not active, then you could get away with 0.7g of protein per pound of bodyweight because your body won’t need as much protein to repair and build muscle.
For example, if you weigh 180 lbs and you don’t exercise regularly then you could get away with 126 grams of protein per day.
- Related Article: Is Whey Protein Good For Women? (What Science Says)
How Much Whey Protein Powder Should You Eat At Once?
Research suggests a maximum of 0.25 grams of protein per pound of body weight per meal to optimize muscle protein synthesis (muscle growth). This recommendation is for general protein intake from all sources but also applies to how much whey protein to consume at one time.
This means a person weighing 150 lbs would have a maximum of 37 grams of protein per meal, which is equivalent to 1.5 scoops of whey protein powder (based on the average 25 grams of protein per scoop).
This 150-lb person with a protein target of 150 grams per day, could have 5 meals per day with 30 grams of protein in each, but 3 meals per day with 50 grams of protein in each would be too much per meal, based on current research.
With 5 meals per day of 30 grams of protein, this person could have one meal’s protein content allocated to protein powder (~1.2 scoops of protein powder) to stay within the 20% recommendation and the 0.25g/lb BW recommendation.
- Related Article: 1 or 2 Scoops Of Protein Powder: How Much Is Right For You?
What Is The Risk Of Taking Too Much Whey Protein Powder?
Consuming too much whey protein powder (more than a third of your daily protein intake on a regular basis) means that you run the risk of missing out key micronutrients that are found in whole food sources of protein but not in protein powder.
Relying too heavily on protein powder rather than whole food sources increases your risk of becoming nutrient deficient, which can cause an array of health issues.
Additionally, consuming too much protein (more than 40% of your daily calories) could cause you to under-consume carbs and fats if you’re trying to stay within a certain calorie target.
For example, if your calorie target is 2000 calories per day and you eat 250 grams of protein (50%) then you would only have 50% of your calories left to split between carbs and fats (i.e. 25% carbs / 25% fats or 30% carbs / 20% fats).
Fat is important for hormonal health and cognitive function, so it’s important to consume at least 20% of your daily calories from fat.
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred energy source, so they are necessary to fuel your performance in your workouts.
Plus, minimally processed foods that contain fat and carbohydrates also provide you with micronutrients that you won’t get from protein.
- Related Article: Is It Okay To Go Over Protein Macros? (Here’s What Happens)
What Is A High-Quality Whey Protein Powder?
A high-quality whey protein powder is a protein powder that has been third-party tested (evaluated for ingredient purity and nutrition label accuracy) and provides more than 85% protein per serving.
Protein powders are not regulated by the FDA, so it’s important to reach for products that have been tested by a lab to verify that the protein powder is safe for you to consume.
For more information on third-party testing, check out our article How To Know If Whey Protein Is Safe If It’s Not FDA Approved.
A protein powder with more than 85% of calories from protein (per serving) is the gold standard for protein powders. In comparison, a “great” protein powder has 76-85% of its calories from protein, and a “reasonable” protein powder provides at least 65-75% of its calories from protein.
Depending on your dietary preferences, you might also look for a protein powder that is free of artificial sweeteners (especially sugar alcohols) and artificial flavors.
Our current number one pick for a high-quality whey protein powder is Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate, a third-party certified product that provides 93% of its calories from protein and has no artificial sweeteners or colors (click to read our review).
- Related Article: Grass-Fed Whey Protein vs. Regular (What To Know Before Buying)
What Are The Benefits Of Whey Protein Powder?
Whey protein powder is a convenient and affordable supplement that can help with weight loss, weight gain, or improved performance. Whey protein powder is a way to boost overall protein intake, which helps with building and preserving muscle mass, improving athletic performance, and increasing metabolism.
The key benefits of whey protein powder are:
- Convenience – whey protein powder is lightweight and portable and does not require preparation or refrigeration. You can easily mix it with milk or water for an on-the-go option.
- Affordability – whey protein powder averages ~$1.29 per 30g scoop if you buy a full-size tub (prices vary from brand to brand and from retailer to retailer in different locations). This is about half the price of a protein bar.
- Increased Satiety – protein is the most satiating macronutrient, so whey protein powder helps you to feel satisfied for longer, which is very helpful when managing hunger during a weight loss phase.
- Muscle growth – supplementing with whey protein powder results in higher increases in lean muscle mass when paired with resistance training than resistance training alone.
- Muscle preservation – supplementing with whey protein powder allows individuals to preserve more lean muscle mass and lose more fat mass while dieting.
- Recovery – taking whey protein powder after training promotes muscle recovery so that you are ready to take on hard training sooner, to get better results, and more quickly.
- Metabolism – whey protein powder helps to boost overall metabolism (the number of calories you burn per day) by helping you retain muscle which burns more calories than fat. Additionally, it boosts metabolism because protein burns more calories through digestion than other nutrients (thermic effect of food).
Best Ways To Track Your Whey Protein Intake
The best ways to track your whey protein intake are to use a macro-tracking app like MacroFactor to log your food, or to keep a paper journal or diary to record your servings of whey protein intake.
I recommend tracking your total protein intake and your whey protein intake so that you can ensure that you are meeting your total daily protein requirements and keeping tabs on what percentage of your total protein intake is being allocated to whey protein powder.
There may be some days that you consume more than the recommended 20%, but the goal should be to stay within this recommendation as much as possible.
- Related Article: How To Track Macros: A Step-by-step Beginner’s Guide
Other Nutrition Calculators
Check out our Nutrition Tools page for all of our calculators.
About The Author
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.