Do Protein Shakes Make You Fat?

By on February 25, 2014

chocolate and strawberry milkshakeAhhh, protein shakes.

Those frosty beverages that if you do ’em up just right – will look and feel much like a regular milkshake.

But unlike those calorie laden and downright evil temptations that you’ll typically find at the local drive-thru – protein shakes sort of come off as one of those ‘magical’ treats that go hand in hand with weight loss and healthy living.

I mean, as I sit and type these words, looking at the image I chose for this post with the the chocolate and strawberry shake… I gotta tell you –

I’m about half a sentence away from breaking out the blender.

But since I’m on a roll here – I’ll wait till later.

I’m kinda stoked too since I have a brand new canister of vanilla creme flavored raw protein powder that I intend to mix with some frozen blueberries and yogurt – all of which are organic.

I’ll probably add in a little bit of frozen banana as well since they’re so healthy and add a great texture to the mix.

The hubby likes it too.

But to stay on topic – let’s get back to the question at hand.

Do Protein Shakes Make You Fat?

Well, they sure can.

In fact – lots of things can make you fat if consumed in excess. And when it comes to protein shakes, it’s important to understand that they all aren’t created equal.

So in an effort to get the best results from adding them to your ‘diet’, there are a few things to consider if weight loss is your goal. These things are:

  • timing
  • sugar content
  • serving size
  • attitude

Let’s break this down one by one, shall we?


There are some ideal times of the day in which to consume protein shakes. These would be after a workout, as a snack and sometimes (if in a hurry) as a meal replacement if it means drink the shake or go hungry.

Many people drink them for breakfast and there’s really nothing wrong with this as long as it’s balanced and nutrient dense. When using a protein shake as a way to fuel yourself when your body actually needs it – which are the times mentioned above, you are almost guaranteed not too overdo it in regard to a ton of excess calories.

Notice I said almost – as ingredients play a huge role in that outcome.

Sugar Content

The truth is – not all protein powders are alike…and you’ll definitely want to make sure you’re using some healthy and high quality stuff.

Protein powders that contain high levels of sugar won’t do you a whole lot of justice. And if you add fruit on top of this, you may be taking in far more energy (calories) than you’ll realistically burn off – ESPECIALLY if it isn’t following a workout.

Too much sugar is never a good thing and regardless of whether or not you work out – an excessive amount that isn’t used as fuel gets stored as fat. A good rule of thumb is to find a mix that has no more than about 5 grams of sugar and go ahead and add some berries to the mix since berries are lower on the glycemic index.

And since I did mention bananas earlier, I’ll admit that while they certainly do have more sugar than berries do – adding them in smaller quantities to your protein shake shouldn’t be a problem…but will offer you some impressive health benefits.

Another thing to consider is that many protein powders out there contain pesticides and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame. I’d steer clear of those and look for ones that are non-gmo and organic.

Serving Size

Back in the day, I used to get my ‘fix’ from one particular place where the smoothies came in 20 oz cups or larger. That’s a pretty large serving size…and on top of this, they were LOADED with sugar.

This can easily pack on weight…and certainly didn’t help me with my own weight loss efforts.

But at the time, I didn’t know any better, and since there was fruit involved in the concoction – I thought I was doing my body good.

I wasn’t.

And truth be told – there’s no good reason to drink 20 ounces of anything other than water…and even too much of that isn’t considered healthy. A good size protein shake will come in at around 6-10 oz depending on the serving size recommendation for the particular protein powder you’re using.

Anything more than that really isn’t necessary…and if you’re adding fruit to the mix, then smaller is better.


Believe it or not, I think this is the most important thing of all…

The attitudes we hold about our nutrition are as important, if not MORE important than nutrition in and of itself.

You can eat the healthiest foods in the world – but if you’re emotionally or intellectually imbalanced – then your behavior will only get you but so far. And since balance is a mindset before anything else – it’s important to realize that these are the very things that lead to the abuse of food of any kind.

Using protein shakes as a example – I’ve personally heard of people drinking nothing but protein shakes all day every day in an effort to lose weight.

This is an unhealthy way to use food and can easily backfire.

The idea behind protein shakes or anything else related to health and fitness is to bring well-being into our lives and use foods as a means for intentional nourishment of the body, mind and yes, spirit. Anything in excess reflects a state of mind that involves lack and anxiety – both of which can lead to eating disorders and an overall unhealthy lifestyle.

So to Answer Your Question…

Do protein shakes make you fat? 

They sure can. But they don’t have to.

How do you use protein shakes? Tell us in the comments section 🙂

About Dana Gore

Author of the book A Simple Guide to Exercise Safety (What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You), Dana Gore completed the curriculum at Fitness Institute International, Inc. as an outstanding graduate in 2009.


  1. Lashunda

    February 27, 2014 at 2:45 am

    I generally have one for breakfast and before my work out.

    • Dana Gore

      February 27, 2014 at 3:08 am

      Hi Lashunda,
      That works. Anything that isn’t too heavy – but that offers energy to fuel the workout is great.

  2. Dawn

    February 27, 2014 at 4:06 am


    I try to enjoy 1 protein shake a day in order to balance out my nutrient ratio’s. But, in actuality, it turns out to be maybe 2 or 3 a week.

    • Dana Gore

      February 27, 2014 at 7:56 am

      Hi Dawn,

      That sounds like a balanced and healthy way to use them.
      They can definitely add a level of convenience to your ‘diet’ when used for this reason as well.

      Thanks so much for your comment!

  3. Pebbles

    February 27, 2014 at 8:13 am

    My fiancé wants to use them as a means of building mass. He is 5’9″ and about 112 lb. He’d like to be 130-150. Do you have a suggestion for what he should look for in a protein powder and how best to use it?

    • Dana Gore

      March 8, 2014 at 3:40 am

      Hi Pebbles,

      Great question. I’ll tell you though that since I don’t specialize in this area of fitness – I’m going to refer you to one of the other posts on the blog filled with the exact type of info you’re looking for.

      I recommend reading the comments as well – as there are suggestions there to help enlighten you.

  4. Deb

    February 27, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    I have a scoop of protein organic grassfed chocolate whey protein powder with 1 1/2 tsp of raw maca, 1tsp of organic sprouted ground flax and chia seeds and 1 scoop of ruby reds mixed with 8 oz of water pre workout. I have another of the same a few hours later but add 3/4 cup of ground oatmeal and an apple for breakfast because I’m at work and it makes it quick and easy

    • Dana Gore

      February 27, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      Hi Deb,

      Your shake sounds amazing and packed with some pretty impressive superfoods (I’m glad you mentioned the chia seeds because I had forgotten to…lol).

      If someone is going to use a protein powder – it’s best to use a high quality one – and you do. Considering how many are on the market that are loaded with sugar and/or toxins – it’s a good idea to get a cleaner one and use less of it.

      Thanks so much for sharing that recipe with us! I appreciate it and I’m sure the readers do as well.

  5. Alice

    June 29, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Very interesting post, I enjoyed reading it! I’d like to share some experience of mine regarding protein shakes – I decided to include them in my diet – which I’m trying to keep healthy and balanced – about a year ago. I train at least 3 times a week in the gym and do some cardio 2 times at minimum. I drink protein shakes for breakfast as well as after workout to deliver all the nutrition my body needs when I wake up and when I finish my training. Results are really amazing and I really recommend including protein shakes in woman’s diet!


    • Dana Gore

      June 29, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      Hi Alice,

      I’m glad you liked the post : )
      It’s great that you have found a way to use protein shakes to fuel and replenish nutrients before and after your workouts.

      I agree that they can add a lot of benefits when used properly and if the ingredients are clean and from a company with integrity.

      I really appreciate your comment and I thank-you for your input.

  6. Angie

    November 29, 2014 at 12:42 am

    What whey protein brand do you recommend? There are so many to choose from and some can be very pricey. I want one that just works. Thanks Angie

    • Dana Gore

      November 29, 2014 at 2:39 am

      Hi Angie,

      I don’t use whey protein (and haven’t for a while) so I can’t give a personal recommendation. I would, however, suggest looking for an organic, non-gmo one.

      I do happen to like the Nutiva products though. They have vanilla and chocolate hemp protein powders that go for approximately $15(ish) per container. They use only organic/non-gmo verified products and since I have used them, I can say that they’re both high quality and they taste good.

      Hope this helps.

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