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How Many Calories Are In a Protein Shake? A Guide

by Mara Welty May 07, 2023 6 min read

 man and woman using INVIGOR8 protein shake

Protein shakes, crafted with powdered protein and a liquid such as water, milk or a milk alternative, are often used by athletes, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts looking to increase their protein intake and, subsequently, support muscle growth and recovery.

Vegetarians, vegans and those with dietary restrictions that limit the amount of animal protein in their diets can also benefit from a daily protein shake. 

All that said, how many calories are in a protein shake — and can a protein shake replace a a meal? In this guide, we’re delivering the inside scoop on everything you need to know about protein shakes, their nutritional values and how they can benefit your fitness and health goals.

Nutritional Value of Protein Shakes

The number of calories in a protein shake can depend on the type and amount of protein powder used. 

These powders provide a concentrated source of protein, typically derived from animals or plants. The three most common types of protein powder fall under one of three classifications:

  • Protein concentrate – This type of protein is made by extracting protein from whole food sources, such as milk or soybeans. It’s then concentrated into protein form, which involves filtering the milk or soy protein to remove fats and carbohydrates. In effect, the product contains high levels of protein — typically 60 to 80% of the total weight. Typically, people will use protein concentrate in post- and pre-workout shakes; however, it may also be used as a meal replacement. 
  • Protein isolate – Protein isolate is similar to protein concentrate, but it undergoes an additional filtration process that further purifies the protein. Effectively, protein comprises 90% or more of the product’s total weight. It’s often used in post-workout recovery shakes and meal replacement shakes, as well as in baking. 
  • Protein hydrolysates – Through various methods, protein is broken up into amino acids to increase the bioavailability of the powder, meaning it’s more effectively absorbed by the body and transported into the bloodstream. As such, you’ll often find protein hydrolysates in medical or sports nutrition protein powders. However, they may also affect blood sugar levels negatively.

Whether the protein powder is a concentrate, isolate or hydrolysate, it can come from several protein sources. More specifically, there are seven varieties of protein most often used in protein shakes. These include:

  • Whey protein – During the cheesemaking process, curds are separated from liquid to create a packaged product. The liquid is what we call whey protein. While it contains high levels of protein, it may also contain lactase, an enzyme that some people have trouble digesting. Fortunately, an isolate version of whey protein will contain very little lactase after the filtering process. However, it may lack some of the additional nutrients that are found in concentrates. Generally, a serving of whey protein (30 g) will range from 120 to 140 calories.
  • Egg protein – Egg protein is sourced from eggs, as eggs are known for their high levels of protein. Because of this, egg protein powder may be very effective in curbing your appetite and keeping you full. Behind whey protein, it’s also the second most abundant protein source of leucine, which can support muscle health to improve lean muscle mass and muscle strength. A typical serving of egg protein powder (30 g) contains about 120 to 140 calories. 
  • Hemp protein – The hemp plant only contains trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants. While it does contain omega-3 fatty acids and amino acids, hemp protein is not considered a complete protein, unlike whey and egg protein powder. That’s because it has low levels of lysine and leucine. Consequently, hemp protein may not serve as the best workout protein supplement. One scoop (30 g) of hemp protein powder can contain anywhere from 100 to 120 calories.
  • Mixed plant protein – This plant-based protein is an adequate option for vegans, as it contains no animal products. Instead, the protein powder combines a variety of high-protein food sources, such as brown rice, peas, hemp, alfalfa, chia seeds, flax seeds, artichoke and quinoa. However, this type of protein is often higher in fiber than other protein powders, which may make it harder to digest. This, consequently, could limit post-workout recovery. 30 g of mixed protein powder can contain about 100 to 200 calories.
  • Casein protein – Derived fom milk, casein protein is a good option if you’re looking for a protein powder that slowly delivers nutrients to your muscles post-workout. In fact, it’s thought to be most effective before bed. However, it’s also believed to be less effective in terms of muscle support than whey protein. A 30 g serving of casein protein can range from 100 to 130 calories. 
  • Brown rice protein – Brown rice protein generally has too low of levels of lysine to be considered an adequate post-workout recovery protein. However, it may still support workout performance and healthy body composition. Generally, 30 g of brown rice protein has about 100 to 120 calories. 
  • Pea protein – Pea protein comes from, well, peas. It’s a popular protein supplement among those who wish to avoid animal products. It may also provide several benefits and promote muscle growth, feelings of fullness, workout performance and overall strength. Like other plant proteins, pea protein powders typically contain 100 to 120 calories per 30 g-serving. 

The Best Protein Powders For Athletes

Athletes should look for high-quality protein powders that will support their training, recovery and overall performance. Specifically, you’ll want to consider the following factors when choosing between different types of protein powder:

  • Calorie content – Since everyone’s weight and fitness goal will vary, ensure that you find a protein powder that aligns with your personal calorie and micronutrient goals, whether you’re looking to build muscle or lose weight. 
  • Protein source – As discussed, the type of protein used in a protein powder can have a significant impact on how effectively it supports your fitness goals. Generally, whey protein is optimal for muscle-building, while both whey and casein can promote weight loss. Vegan or vegetarians can also opt for plant-based sources, such as hemp or pea protein.
  • Protein content – Generally, athletes should look for protein powders that contain 15 to 30 grams of protein per serving. However, this will vary depending on the protein source and brand. 
  • Carb and fat content – Steer clear of protein powders that add unnecessary fats. That said, carbs and proteins can work together to support energy production and promote muscle repair, growth and recovery.
  • Additional ingredients – Look for a protein powder curated with high-quality ingredients, including fatty acids, superfood greens, essential vitamins, probiotics, prebiotics and digestive enzymes.

Health and Fitness Benefits of Protein Shakes 

Moderate-calorie protein shakes packed with essential vitamins, beneficial nutrients and effective protein sources can support those looking to meet certain fitness, dietary and lifestyle goals. Specifically, a protein drink like a shake may assist muscle gain, weight loss and nutrient intake.

Because protein shakes do have a significant amount of calories per serving, they can act as a meal replacement that still delivers the nutrients you need throughout the day, including:

  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Amino acids
  • Herbs

That said, protein shakes should be coupled with a balanced diet of whole foods. You can even blend some of these foods into your daily shake, like:

  • Bananas and berries
  • Nut butter or peanut butter
  • Green tea powder
  • Mushroom powder
  • Greek yogurt
  • Oats

Skip the fruit juices, though — especially before or during exercise. Often high in fructose, sugar juices can cause stomach cramps and may spike blood sugar levels.

Protein shakes with whey protein, specifically, may also aid weight loss by increasing feelings of fullness, boosting your metabolism and facilitating the loss of belly fat.

That said, having too high of a protein intake may inhibit your weight loss efforts since it’s critical to create a calorie deficit for weight loss (while still feeding your body a balanced diet of nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats).

In terms of fitness, protein shakes are believed to increase muscle mass and improve physical performance. Drinking protein shakes post-workout may also support the repair and subsequent growth of torn muscles to enhance your recovery. 

Find High-Quality Protein Shakes With INVIGOR8

How many calories in a protein shake depends on the protein source, as well as the product’s brand and serving size. Nevertheless, you can generally expect plant based protein powders to range from 100 to 120 calories per serving. On the other hand, milk-based proteins, like whey and casein, are generally higher in calories, though not by much.

Athletes and health enthusiasts often add protein shakes to their day-to-day to support recovery following workouts, provide weight loss support and assist nutrient intake. At INVIGOR8, we’ve crafted our All-in-One Superfood Shakes with full-body health and wellness in mind. 

Made with grass-fed whey protein, our protein shake provides a complete protein source to those looking to support their overall health, and it’s only 170 calories per serving. It’s also free from synthetic dyes, added sugar, preservatives, hormones and artificial sweeteners. Instead, it’s packed with a bevy of essential nutrients to support cognitive, digestive and immune health. With every shake, you can feel confident that you’re feeding your body with essential fatty acids, probiotics, prebiotics and green veggies.

Simply scoop, shake and sip to experience the difference of INVIGOR8.


Healthline. The 7 Best Types of Protein Powder

Healthline. Do Protein Shakes Work? Muscle Gain and Weight Loss

About the Author

 Mara Welty
Mara Welty

Mara Welty is a copywriter who specializes in health, wellness and CBD topics. With a background in journalism, she aims to deliver engaging, research-based content that builds trust and engages readers through informative storytelling.

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