As one of the three macronutrients – the other two being fats and carbs – protein is an incredibly important part of any balanced diet. When consumed, your body breaks it down into amino acids that go on to fuel muscle synthesis, healing, enzyme production, and a variety of other crucial tasks. Protein is what repairs your muscles after exercise, letting you get stronger and faster, and it helps you feel full after meals, which can aid weight loss efforts.
But how much protein is the right amount? The question may be simple, but the answer is not. The fact is, protein needs vary based on a number of factors, including sex, size, and level of physical activity. Keep reading as the nutrition shake specialists at ENU explain just how much protein is recommended for a meal replacement shake.
Recommended Amount of Protein for Meal Replacement Shakes
When deciding how much protein is appropriate for a meal replacement, it helps to take a broad view of the recommended amount of protein in a standard diet. This will help you determine how much you should be getting throughout your day overall, which you can then divide up based on how many meals you plan to eat.
The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine sets a recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, for each type of nutrient your body needs to stay healthy. For protein, the RDA is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. For an average man with a sedentary lifestyle, that comes out to about 56 grams per day. For a woman, it means about 46 grams per day.
While these numbers may not apply to everyone, they provide a helpful benchmark for determining how much protein to aim for in your diet; just keep in mind that they are calculated based on an inactive lifestyle, so those who exercise regularly may want to increase their protein intake. Still, dividing these guidelines by three creates a rough estimate for the amount of protein you should eat per meal:
- For men, 15-20 grams should suffice
- For women, about 15 grams is appropriate
Any product that brands itself a “meal replacement” should contain about this amount of protein, though many products offer significantly less. Check the label before buying to make sure you’re getting enough key nutrients in that nutrition bar or shake, especially if it’s standing in for one of your meals that day.
Best Types of Protein for Nutrition Drinks
Although the amount of protein you consume definitely matters, the type of protein is equally as important to consider. Some sources of protein are more easily absorbed than others, making those ingredients more effective than their cheaper counterparts.
Whey protein is the most popular protein supplement on the market today, not only because it is inexpensive and widely available, but also because it has a pleasant taste and is an efficient form of protein. Whey is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all the essential amino acids your body needs but can’t produce itself. It is also very easily absorbed into your system, making it an ideal post-workout protein.
Plant-based proteins can also be quite beneficial, especially to vegans or those who can’t process lactose. Soy is one example of an effective plant protein, and it is one of the few plant-based options that is also a complete protein. Quinoa and chia seeds are two others, though finding them as ingredients in meal replacement shakes can be difficult.
As with many aspects of your diet, however, variety can be advantageous: sometimes a blend of proteins can bring a host of benefits that overshadow any individual source. A study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition in 2013 suggests that a blend of dairy and soy proteins may be more effective at building muscle than either alone. This can be as helpful for those seeking to preserve muscle mass while sick as for those just looking to gain muscle through resistance training.
Healthy Ingredients for Meal Replacement Shakes
When shopping for a meal replacement shake, don’t overlook the other nutrients it contains. A lot of products use cheap, harmful ingredients to boost their calorie count or provide quick energy; corn syrups are a common example of this, though by no means the only one. Try to find shakes that use healthy, natural ingredients like unsaturated fats from coconut oil or unrefined carbs from brown rice or tapioca. The overall quality of the ingredients you put into your body matters, regardless of which nutrient you’re focused on.
ENU Nutrition Shakes Offer Healthy Ingredients and Balanced Nutrition
Finding a product that you can confidently substitute for a meal shouldn’t be hard. That’s why the nutrition specialists at ENU include 17 grams of protein from whey and soy in every shake, plus heart-healthy fats and complex carbs. Don’t settle for a sugary, unhealthy drink when complete nutrition is within your reach. Contact us today at (855) 266-6733 or visit us online to learn more about all the products we offer.