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Should I Have a Protein Shake for Breakfast?

Protein Shakes for Breakfast

In my latest guide, I look specifically towards the benefits of consuming protein shakes for breakfast, together with the potential disadvantages towards making such a dietary intervention such as this.

A protein shake breakfast option for those looking to make something quickly, is perfect for an on-the-go lifestyle and compliments many of the meal replacement shakes I’ve previously written about. While protein shakes scream convenience, and can be massively versatile, protein is an essential macronutrient required for the muscle recovery process.

Protein shake recipes can be tailored to ensure that they meet your taste preferences, but most importantly, their protein content can vary to boost existing muscle mass and weight-loss diets.

So, back to the main question: Should you have a protein shake for breakfast? Read on to find out!

How much protein do you usually need per day?

Before you immediately run out and buy all the ingredients and protein shakes out there, it is important to also consider the nutritional needs for your body specifically every day. Usually, nutritional scientists will recommend that a sedentary man or woman would need to multiply 0.6 grams of protein by their body weight in kilograms. Of course, if you are active you will most definitely be needing much more protein within your diet to contribute towards the increased muscle tension and muscle repair subjected due to this.  For that reason, health entities like The British Nutrition Foundation would suggest protein intake to increase to 1-2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for the male or female. The boundary between 1 or 2 grams would of course depend on the intensity of workouts. Tough workout regimes will obviously need more protein to aid muscle recovery as there will be a greater tension subjected to muscles more regularly. This particularly applies to individuals looking to build muscle for example.

Another way fitness motivated individuals go about calculating their protein is by keeping their protein consumption to 20-30 percent of their overall calorie intake. When you are wanting to know how many calories your body needs, you need to be aware of your calorie expenditure for your body specifically. Again, this will depend entirely on the level of activity committed to, in hours each week. Protein is not everything you should be looking at however, to fuel your body you will need to take into consideration the healthy fats and carbohydrates too. This ensures your body has enough energy to fall back on, when it needs to fuel itself during any physical activity output, as well as the biological activities when your body is resting.

Which are the best protein shakes for breakfast?

I’ve found 3 ready-made protein shakes for breakfast that I think you’ll like, and some of the features and benefits to each one.

1. Foodspring Shape 2.0 Protein Shake

Shape Shake 2.0

Notable features and benefits I think you’ll like include:

  • Just add water- and you are good to go!
  • Gluten free stevia recipe with the enzyme complex, linseed and L. Acidophilus
  • Integrated with 24 different minerals and vitamins (i.e. Vitamin C and D)
  • Great for building muscle mass and weight loss regimes
  • Over 20 grams of protein per meal shake, meaning it is a perfect breakfast meal replacement
  • Comes in 7 flavours that are flexibly added to alternative ingredients i.e. almond milk

The Foodspring Shape 2.0 is one of the best protein sources and meal replacement shake solutions on the market today. With the varying flavours available, it is possible to combine them with additional ingredients and create experimental shakes and recipes of your own. These ready made protein powders are high protein, high dietary fibre and with no added sugars besides the existing natural sugar content within them. Should you wish to intuitively include these within a weight loss or muscle building program, you will find promising results with consistent tracking of your macronutrients and energy consumed daily.

2. Myprotein Meal Replacement Blend

Myprotein Meal Replacement Blend

Notable features and benefits I think you’ll like include:

  • Just needs water and it’s easy to make
  • Suitable for vegetarians and gluten free
  • High protein source and fibre content
  • Contains high vitamin and mineral content with the essentials like vitamin C, vitamin D, and B vitamins
  • Great for intuitive weight loss and muscle building regimes
  • Comes in 4 main flavours that can be added to alternative liquid substitutions and ingredients

The Myprotein meal replacement product is a perfect substitution for those wishing to integrate greater protein sources within their diet, without the attached calories that can sometimes creep in there. Each serving contains 17 grams of protein, and with just 200 calories per serving mix, it can be integrated within most nutritional and health driven goals. Due to it containing whey protein concentrate, the meal replacement is fast absorbing, and therefore could be an ideal meal to have on the go and post-gym.

3. Huel Ready-to-drink

Huel ready to drink

Notable features and benefits I think you’ll like include:

  • Ready to drink with no liquid addition necessary
  • Elaborate essential vitamins and minerals, with 27 in total per serving
  • High protein plant based protein, and a perfect vegan and gluten free meal replacement alternative
  • Rich in BCAA content
  • Low GI carb content, and high insoluble fibres
  • Rich in essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6)
  • High in phytonutrients

Huel is a handy good-to-go meal, with no additional preparation needed to drink it. Within the 500 ml serving, there is a total of 400 calories. There are four main flavours at present, and due to the higher calorie value within the drink, you will find a greater carbohydrate, fat and protein macronutrient content overall here. The overall purpose is to act as a meal and support the nutritional needs of a consciously driven diet to support health goals. It is also a good gluten free and vegan meal replacement alternative!

Benefits of protein shake for breakfast

Benefits of a protein shake for breakfast

Having a breakfast protein shake can introduce many benefits towards your lifestyle, and for you to fully understand the scope of how they can add to your health and fitness goals, make sure you pay attention to the benefits that have been listed down below!

Protein breakfast shakes will help maintain and build muscleBuild muscle

Drinking protein shakes in the morning can help promote benefits towards your workout routine and if anything , you get an extra boost due to the nutritional profile of the protein shake. If you drink it first thing in the morning, you can actually promote tissue repair and accentuate the muscle synthesis process, which obviously slows down during the fasted state of sleep. Elaborating on this, in studies with individuals opting to focus on their muscle size and build through weight lifting, those that chose to take protein before or after working out, reported increased size and maintenance over a 10-week controlled programme. [1]

Protein breakfast shakes will help you meet your daily protein intake requirements

Help you meet your daily protein intake requirementsYou can count on protein shakes as an easy way to help you pick up on nutrients that you may neglect eating throughout the day. This is especially relevant to athletes and individuals with fitness goals. We all know how achieving set macronutrients is massively important. Most fitness tips on all resources will always refer to how getting your recommended macros acts a large factor to getting the results you are motivated and driven by.  So, get into the habit of looking at protein powder shakes as a convenient way to squeeze those extra nutrients into your diet, as well as keeping you satiated for longer. Dense fibre and slow releasing carbohydrates in a shake, equate to a longer holding stomach! [2]

Will having a protein shake for breakfast help me lose weight?

So, we all know that weight loss is the simple equation that takes into account you eating in a deficit, with comparisons to your total energy expenditure.  It really is that simple. However, when cravings kick in and you have yummy high calorie options such as peanut butter and other foods in general that taste good-it can be hard to attain that balance, right?  Well, there are actual studies and related stories in science which support the correlation between a higher intake of protein and the outcome of weight loss.

Will having a protein shake for breakfast help me lose weight?

The first benefit noted was that high protein diets in general can actually boost your metabolism overall.  In low carbohydrate diets, gluconeogenesis actually increases  (where the body uses energy from fat tissues), meaning, should you keep to your calorie deficit, there is no reason for weight loss not to be an achievable end goal. High protein diets are also great for maintaining blood sugar levels due to the lower added sugar from carbohydrates, which can often spike your energy levels erratically.  Within this high protein study, test subjects also portrayed great mental performance too, due to the ‘low energy availability’ and efficient body dynamic created through the diet. [3]

Is it OK to replace breakfast with a protein shake?

With all the benefits listed above, it should be obvious that a protein shake first thing can be a healthy breakfast to go for.  It is important however, to understand that protein shakes for breakfast, may give rise to disadvantages to some people, and not work as a solution to all fitness goals. For example, it is always advised to keep track of your calorie intake at any given time when preparing protein shakes and foods in general. If you don’t track your calories, the addition of some dense nut butter variations like peanut butter for example, could easily get out of hand. You could actually exceed your energy expenditure very easily by not accounting for the nutritional profile of your protein shakes-yes, even if you eat them first thing after prolonged exercise or when you wake up! Energy is energy that needs to be used or stored at the end of the day. You need to account for each and every calorie that is consumed, in comparison to the total energy you put out.

It also may be worth noting that if you rely heavily on protein shakes, you are at risk of nutritional deficiencies and a hit to your immune system too, as protein powder and shake options decrease the diversity of your diet and overall nutrient consumption. Think of all the multivitamins, antioxidants and minerals that your body and metabolism depend on not included, due to the limitation of only consuming shakes.

Of course, you could also try and combat this issue by making your own protein shakes and protein smoothie drinks at home, where you will be able to mix all the nutrients up and have complete control of your diet. Are you thinking you don’t know any recipes to do this? Well, stay right there, recipes are coming right up!

3 Great Protein Breakfast Shake Recipes

Are you looking to create simple and easy protein powder and protein smoothie shakes for the on-the-go life you are facing? It may come as good news that the recipes listed below are so low maintenance, and all you are required to do is go to the grocery store and chuck all the contents in and blend. Simple.

Frozen Bananas Protein Shake

1. Frozen Bananas Protein Shake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup of full-fat Greek yogurt
  • one scoop of vanilla protein powder
  • vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
  • ice as needed
    Grated ginger, up to one tablespoon

Instructions

  1. Blend all the ingredients together until they are of a smooth consistency.
  2. If you find the mixture too thick, you can add more almond milk in increments, until the consistency is as preferred.

Nutritional Information

  • Energy content: 362 calories

Very Berry Delight Protein Shake

2. Very Berry Delight Protein Shake

Ingredients

  • 350 ml of water or coconut water
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup of frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup of frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon of walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed
  • extra ingredients (other frozen fruit of choice)

Instructions

  1. Blend all the ingredients together until they are of a smooth consistency.
  2. If you find the mixture too thick, you can add more water or ice in increments, until the consistency is as preferred.

Nutritional information

  • Energy content: 500 calories

Pumpkin Cinnamon Shake

3. Chocolate Peanut Butter and Banana Shake

Ingredients

  • 350 ml of water, dairy milk, soy milk or Greek yogurt
  • 2 scoops chocolate flavoured protein powder
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of spinach
  • 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter or any other nut butters of choice
  • 1 tablespoon of cacao nibs or dark cocoa powder

Instructions

  1. Blend all the ingredients together until they are of a smooth consistency.
  2. If you find the mixture too thick, you can add more water, milk or ice in increments, until the consistency is as preferred.

Nutritional information

  • Energy content: 585 calories

My final thoughts

Without a doubt, I think having a protein shake for breakfast is definitely something that any health conscious or fitness driven individual should consider! Protein shakes are a great way to kick start your metabolism first thing in the morning, as your body will be waking up from a long duration of fasting, meaning it needs to be fed the right source of nutrients to function at its best potential. Giving your muscles a good source of fast absorbing whey protein (homemade or ready to-go), will certainly put you on the right track to tackle your day-workout or not!

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Is whey protein good for breakfast?

Yes. Whey protein is the perfect fast-acting protein for those that wish to have the best protein source immediately sourced to their muscles after, or before a workout. Therefore, should you choose to workout in the morning, whey protein powders are the perfect option to reach out for.

Is it okay to drink whey protein on an empty stomach?

It can be a great fast-absorbing protein to drink when you are just coming out of the fasted state of sleep, that is for sure. However, for those with digestive issues and lactose intolerance, they will most definitely struggle with uncomfortable symptoms. To overcome this, try and alternate your protein powder choice to non-dairy and plant based protein powders. [4]

Are protein shakes better in the morning or night?

The answer to this question will entirely depend on your fitness goals and the reason you are deciding to drink protein shakes. If you select whey protein shakes, due to their nature of being fast absorbing, it would make sense to take these in the morning, after a workout, or before a workout. Casein protein on the other hand, is the perfect protein powder to combine in your protein shakes to drink before bed, due to it being of a slow absorbing nature.

References 

  1. Schoenfeld, B., Aragon, A., Wilborn, C., Urbina, S., Hayward, S. and Krieger, J., 2017. Pre- versus post-exercise protein intake has similar effects on muscular adaptations. PeerJ, [online] 5, p.e2825. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5214805/ [Accessed 23 July 2021].
  2. Link, R., 2020. Protein Shake for Breakfast: Benefits, Weight Loss, and Fitness. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/protein-shake-for-breakfast#benefits [Accessed 23 July 2021].
  3. Veldhorst, M., Westerterp-Plantenga, M. and Westerterp, K., 2009. Gluconeogenesis and energy expenditure after a high-protein, carbohydrate-free diet. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, [online] 90(3), pp.519-526. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19640952/ [Accessed 23 July 2021].
  4. Raman, R., 2017. Does Too Much Whey Protein Cause Side Effects?. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/whey-protein-side-effects[Accessed 23 July 2021].

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