Protein shakes are a great addition to any diet where you are trying to lose fat or gain muscle, however, the calories in some protein shakes can seem a little alarming.
While it is expected that shakes high in protein will also be relatively high in calories, it can be off-putting to see hundreds of calories listed on a small bottle of shake.
However, the calories in protein shakes depend heavily on the ingredients used in the shake including the type of protein that is used.
In this article, we will look at the different types of protein and the calories they contain as well as the differences between homemade and commercial shakes in terms of calorie content.
Type Of Protein
There are many different types of protein that are available on the market, all of which offer different nutritional profiles, including calorie count.
Below, we will look at the different types of protein that are most commonly available and the calories and other important nutrition they offer.
Whey protein is one of the most common types of protein that you can buy.
A scoop of whey protein by itself contains around 100 calories on average.
Commercial or ready-made protein shakes that contain whey protein are often around 250 to 300 calories per serving, although this is common because of the milk that is used to make the shake.
It is possible to find or make lower-calorie whey protein shakes by using water or low-fat milk.
A common vegan protein option is soy protein. A scoop of soy protein by itself offers around 175 calories on average.
In the grand scheme of things and the bigger picture of a balanced and nutritious diet, the extra 75 calories of soy protein don’t make that much difference.
Again, the overall calories of a protein shake are also heavily influenced by the liquid used to make up the shake.
Soy protein also contains many other nutrients and vitamins that are essential for a healthy body and diet.
Brown Rice Protein
Brown rice protein is another common vegan protein option.
A single scoop serving of this protein contains around 110 calories which is very similar to that of whey protein.
Brown rice protein is also one of the only vegan alternatives that offer almost equal results when directly compared to whey protein. Brown rice protein is also a hypoallergenic protein.
Pea protein contains around 130 calories per average scoop. This is a fairly reasonable number of calories for a protein.
Studies have shown that pea protein can be just as effective as whey protein for helping to build muscle after workouts.
Hemp protein contains around 135 calories per scoop. It is very similar to pea protein in its calorie content however that is where the similarities seem to stop.
Hemp protein is a great source of fiber and can help in the manufacture of enzymes and hormones in the body.
Type Of Liquid
The liquid that is used to create a protein shake has a huge influence on the number of calories that the shake contains.
This means that it is a really easy way to alter or control the number of calories in your protein shake when making it at home yourself.
If you are using protein shakes as part of a calorie-controlled diet that is designed to help you lose weight, making your protein shake with water is a great option.
Water obviously doesn’t contain any calories and therefore, doesn’t add to the calorie count of the protein shake.
This is a good option if you are using the protein to keep you feeling full for longer rather than trying to build muscle.
A protein shake prepared with water will contain between 100-150 calories.
If a water protein shake doesn’t appeal to your taste buds, another low-calorie option is to use 0% milk or even nut milk such as almond which is naturally low in calories.
However, because calories aren’t the be all and end all of nutrition, these kinds of milk also contain nutrients such as carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals that contribute to your overall health.
A protein shake prepared with almond milk will contain between 161-200 calories.
If you are looking to add muscle mass to your body through protein shakes, you can use full-fat milk to heighten the calorie content of your shake.
Full fat milk also contains other nutrients such as carbohydrates, fat, and essential vitamins that can help contribute to your fitness goals. A protein shake prepared with full-fat milk will contain between 300-350 calories.
If your preferred method of protein intake is through commercial or ready-made shakes, you have less control over the ingredients that are used to make the shake and therefore the overall calorie content.
On the whole, protein shakes that you can buy ready to go will be very similar to the shakes that you might make at home. However, there will be added ingredients that you wouldn’t put in at home.
These include flavorings, sweeteners, stabilizers, and preservatives.
They may also include things such as xanthan gum to help maintain an appealing consistency.
When you make a shake at home, you will also add extra ingredients, but they will tend to be whole ingredients rather than chemical components.
You will also know exactly what you are adding, which is a benefit that you don’t get with commercial shakes.
When you make a protein shake at home, you will usually start with your liquid of choice and your protein powder.
For some people this will be the extent of their protein shake, however, many people like to add other ingredients to their shakes to help improve the flavor, calories, and overall nutritional value.
These ingredients play a similar role to the added ingredients in ready-made protein shakes, but we are in control of what we add.
Common additions to protein shakes that are made at home include nut butter, sweeteners such as honey, and fruits such as bananas.
All of these things add calories to the shake, particularly the sweeteners and nut butter.
It is important to ensure that you are adding an appropriate amount to your shakes to avoid turning them into calorie bombs.
The calories in protein shakes vary wildly depending on the type of protein that is used and the other ingredients that are added to the shake.
When making a shake at home, it is very easy to adjust the number of calories to suit your dietary needs and fitness goals. Commercial or ready-made shakes however are not so easy, although they are convenient.