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JUN 28, 2024

Protein Dos and Don'ts: Your Ultimate Guide to Optimal Intake

Here’s our ultimate guide to the essential protein dos and don'ts, to help you achieve optimal intake and support your health goals.

Read time: 12 minutes

Protein is a key part of our diet and, what’s more, it plays a major role in keeping us healthy. It's essential for building and repairing tissues, producing enzymes and hormones, and boosting our immune system. Today we thought we’d breakdown how to smartly add protein to your diet, the perks of different protein sources, and answer some common questions about protein powders and shakes. So, let’s get into it.

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The Importance of Protein in Your Diet

As we’ve said, protein is a crucial part of any diet. It helps build and repair muscles, supports metabolic processes, and promotes healthy skin, hair, and nails. As such, incorporating various protein sources into your diet ensures you get all the essential amino acids your body needs.

Benefits of Protein

Muscle Growth and Repair

Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth, especially after workouts.

Weight Management

Protein helps keep you full, reducing overall calorie intake.

Enhanced Metabolism

High-protein diets can boost metabolism and increase the number of calories burned.

Improved Strength and Performance

Adequate protein intake supports strength and performance, making it crucial for athletes and bodybuilders.

Protein Dos

  • Include a Variety of Protein Sources: Incorporate a mix of animal and plant-based proteins. Examples include meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, legumes, and soy products.
  • Consider Protein Timing: Spread your daily protein intake to optimize muscle protein synthesis. Aim to include protein in every meal and snack.
  • Use Protein Powders Wisely: Protein powders can be a convenient way to increase your intake. Choose high-quality products with minimal additives.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water is essential when consuming high-protein diets to help your kidneys process protein and prevent dehydration.
  • Balance Your Diet: Pair protein with a balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals for overall health.

Protein Don'ts

  • Avoid Excessive Consumption: Too much protein can strain your kidneys and liver. Stick to recommended daily intakes based on your body weight and activity level.
  • Don't Rely Solely on Supplements: Whole foods should be your primary protein source. Protein powders should be used as a supplement, not a replacement.
  • Beware of Added Sugars and Additives: Some protein powders contain added sugars and artificial ingredients. Read labels carefully.
  • Don't Neglect Carbohydrates and Fats: A well-rounded diet is crucial. Don't cut out other macronutrients in favor of protein.
  • Avoid Skipping Meals: Ensure regular meals with adequate protein to maintain energy levels and muscle mass.

Protein Sources and Their Benefits

Ultimately, there are two main sources of protein: Animal-Based Proteins and Plant-Based Proteins.

Animal-Based Proteins

  • Meat: Rich in essential amino acids, iron, and vitamin B12. Examples include beef, chicken, and pork.
  • Fish: High in omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Examples include salmon, tuna, and cod.
  • Dairy: Excellent source of calcium and protein. Examples include milk, cheese, and yogurt.
  • Eggs: High-quality protein source with all essential amino acids.

Plant-Based Proteins

  • Legumes: Rich in fiber, protein, and essential nutrients. Examples include beans, lentils, and chickpeas.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Provide healthy fats, protein, and vitamins. Examples include almonds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.
  • Soy Products: Good plant-based protein source. Examples include tofu, tempeh, and edamame.
  • Quinoa: Complete protein with all nine essential amino acids.

Protein Quantity Analysis

Finding the optimal amount of protein your body requires is important to ensure that you can meet your health and fitness goals.

How Much Protein is in a Protein Shake?

The amount of protein in a protein shake can vary depending on the brand and type of protein powder used. On average, a typical protein shake contains around 20-30 grams of protein per serving, but this amount can be higher or lower depending on the specific product and serving size.

How Much Protein Powder Is Too Much?

While protein is essential for health, consuming too much protein powder can have adverse effects. Most experts recommend that individuals consume under 1.6-2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This can go up to 2.5 grams per kilogram for athletes and bodybuilders. Consuming more than this can lead to kidney strain, digestive issues, and nutrient imbalances.

How Much is One Scoop of Protein Powder?

One scoop of protein powder typically contains about 20-25 grams. However, this can vary depending on the brand and type of protein powder. Always check the nutrition label on the product to know the exact amount of protein per scoop.

What If You Take Too Much Protein Powder?

Consuming too much protein powder can lead to several health issues, including kidney damage, dehydration, digestive problems, and nutrient imbalances. Following recommended dosage guidelines and balancing protein powder intake with whole-food protein sources is important.

How Much Protein Shake Per Day?

The number of protein shakes you consume daily depends on your individual protein needs, which vary based on age, sex, weight, and activity level. Generally, 1-2 protein shakes daily are sufficient for most people. It's important also to get protein from whole food sources to ensure a balanced intake of nutrients.

When to Drink Protein Shakes for Weight Loss

For weight loss, drinking protein shakes at specific times is beneficial to help control hunger and boost metabolism. Here are some optimal times to consume protein shakes for weight loss:

  • Breakfast: Starting your day with a protein shake can help keep you full and reduce cravings.
  • Post-Workout: Consuming a protein shake after a workout helps repair muscles and promote muscle growth, which can increase your metabolic rate.
  • Between Meals: Drinking a protein shake between meals can help curb hunger and prevent overeating during main meals.

Protein Powder that Doesn't Cause Gas

If you experience gas or bloating from protein powder, you might be sensitive to certain ingredients, such as lactose in whey protein. Here are some protein powders less likely to cause gas:

  • Pea Protein: A plant-based protein that is easy to digest and hypoallergenic.
  • Hemp Protein: Contains fiber, which aids digestion and is less likely to cause bloating.
  • Brown Rice Protein: Another easily digestible, plant-based protein.
  • Hydrolyzed Whey Protein: This type of whey protein is pre-digested, making it easier on the stomach.

Protein Powder that Doesn't Cause Bloating

Similar to reducing gas, to avoid bloating, look for protein powders that are low in lactose and artificial additives. Some options include:

  • Isolate Whey Protein: Contains less lactose than concentrated whey protein.
  • Collagen Protein: Generally easy to digest and doesn't cause bloating.
  • Egg White Protein: Low in allergens and easy on the digestive system.

Getting the Best From Your Protein Shake

At the end of the day, protein is super important for your body. It helps build muscles, manage your weight, and keep you healthy overall. To get the most out of your protein, it's good to know how much you need, the best foods to eat, and what to avoid. Make sure to eat a variety of whole foods, drink plenty of water, and talk to a doctor or nutritionist for advice tailored just for you.

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Written by Matthew Stogdon

Matt has been writing for two decades, across print and digital media. He is also an accomplished filmmaker, with several accolades under his belt.


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