Total Shape is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission. Learn more.

Is It Bad To Drink Protein Shakes Without Working Out?

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson | Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Last updated: August 15, 2023
We personally test every product featured in our reviews and guides. By ordering products anonymously and getting a group of independent testers, we are able to get first-hand experience and provide data-driven recommendations. Learn more.

There’s no denying how effective protein shakes are in helping people to bulk up.

However, what happens when you take them without working out?

As you may already have guessed, all those nutrients have to go somewhere. But where exactly do they go?

To answer this question, we’ve spent hours researching how these shakes affect the body to determine whether or not you should be worried.

Quick Summary

  • You can drink protein shakes without working out provided you know your body needs for a limited time or you risk gaining weight when your body stores a lot of calories.
  • Protein shakes help build new muscles, and also maintain muscle tissues.
  • While taking protein shakes, regularly work out and eat a healthy diet for positive results.

Can I Drink Protein Shakes Without Working Out?

woman chugging a large glass of protein shake

You can drink protein shakes on your rest days or without working out as long as you know your bodily needs. But if you don't exercise and protein shakes add a lot of calories to your diet, you might gain weight.

An athlete or a bodybuilder often uses shakes to increase the daily intake of proteins. This extra protein boost allows them to build muscle and get the most out of their workout.

Additionally, they may also be taken as a meal replacement to assist with weight management.

As shakes are in liquid form, this allows getting high on protein without the need to overload the digestion.

The biggest concern with drinking protein shakes when not working out includes side effects such as diarrhea, constipation, dehydration, and weight gain.

In most cases, if you decide to drink protein shakes and not exercise, any extra proteins will simply be flushed out by your digestive system.

What are the best protein powders?

Is It Safe To Take Whey Protein Without Working Out?

man using a spoon to scoop powder from a container

It is safe to take whey protein without working out as long as it is done in moderation.

Whey is a protein that is derived from milk during cheese production.

This protein is usually processed into powder form and sold as products like protein supplements.

Whey is a complete protein that contains essential amino acids needed for muscle growth.

This makes it highly efficient at muscle protein synthesis, a process where your bodily systems produce proteins to repair damaged muscles after workouts.

According to scientific tests, “a group of researchers found that whey protein can facilitate muscle recovery and may hold particular relevance for athletes engaging in high-intensity, explosive sports. [1]”

- Harry P. Cintineo, Human Performance Researcher

What Goes Into a Protein Shake?

banana fruits with a glass of drink

A protein shake consists of a scoop of protein powder mixed with water or milk. Protein shakes are often created using a combination of protein powder, frozen fruit, ice, seeds and nuts, and liquid.

The amount of powder added depends on your weight. This is calculated at a ratio of 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

Other common foods that are added to a shake include:

  • Base liquid: This often consists of milk, water, or both. Milk is a good choice for extra proteins and to add richness to the shake.
  • Protein powder: Popular choices include whey, casein, and plant proteins.
  • Fruits: Bananas, strawberries, pineapple, mango, and blueberries are rich in vitamins and provide sweetness.
  • Veggies: Greens like kale, spinach, chard, and lettuce add a ton of extra nutrients and minerals.
  • Even more protein: In addition to powder, whole foods such as chicken breast, eggs, chocolate, seeds, yogurt, and fish can be added to the blended shake. Talk about protein overload!

How Do Protein Shakes Affect Your Body?

man proudly flexing his arms while pointing at it

Protein shakes affect your body by helping you grow muscle mass while improving your performance and recovery. They also aid in preventing muscle loss and may even help you gain muscle mass when trying to lose weight.

Increased Regeneration and Maintenance of Muscles

Proteins are responsible for the building and maintaining of muscle tissue.

Taking a shake as part of your diet helps repair damaged muscle fibers strained from working out. Over time, this increases muscle mass, strength, and size.

Consuming proteins along with intensive training in a workout will damage muscles further, leading to optimal results.

Healthy Fat Loss

woman holding up her loose pants

Compared to carbs or fats, proteins are more satiating and help you feel content.

Taking a shake makes you feel full due to the volume of liquid in your stomach.

This helps curb food cravings, reducing the intake of food you eat on your diet and minimizing your calories.

Additionally, a shake can be used to replace a meal while still providing you with essential nutrients.

Replacing meals with a shake can help you achieve your weight loss goals by eliminating excess calories and increasing metabolism.

This is why people often use a shake as a meal replacement when they’re on a diet and want to lose a few pounds.

They may even consume them in place of breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even alongside them, depending on their hunger level.

It is important to note that your body's protein demand per day will be low if you are not working out.

This means the more shakes you consume as part of your diet, the higher your calorie intake.

If you consume too many shakes without exercise alongside your usual diet, it will lead to eventual fat gain due to increased calorie intake.

Lastly, excess protein needs to be excreted from the system as waste.

Eating too much protein per day results in a lack of water, which overworks the kidneys. As a result, people at risk of kidney disease should be especially cautious about their protein intake.

Related Article: Does Protein Powder Actually Work?


  1. What Type of Protein Is Best For You?
    Whey protein is the type of protein that is best for you if you want to build muscles or lose weight. It is quickly absorbed and broken down by bodily systems, allowing it to be utilized for muscle repair and growth after a workout.
  2. Do Protein Shakes Make You Put On Weight?
    Protein shakes may make you put on weight if you are not exercising. High-calorie drinks increase the number of calories going into your system. If you do not work out or put those calories to use, it gets stored in your fat cells and result in fat gains.
  3. Can I Have Too Much Protein?
    Yes, you can have too much protein. If you have a high-protein diet, you're at risk of developing kidney stones and other health issues. If you want the safest amount, consider taking no more than 125 grams per day, assuming you're a 140-pound person [2]

Are You Going to Drink Protein Shakes Without Exercising?

High-protein drinks, like whey protein powders, are an excellent way to add more nutrition to your diet.

People who cannot get certain vitamins or minerals can opt to add fruit or vegetables to their shake.

Not only is this a healthy strategy to give your system what it needs, but it also adds a variety of flavors to make the shake taste better.

Drinking shakes without exercise can lead to lot of side effects, the most common one being fat gain.

However, as long as your grams per protein intake doesn’t exceed your total weight, any other possible complications should be minimal.


Was this article helpful?

About The Author

You May Also Like

2 thoughts on “Is It Bad To Drink Protein Shakes Without Working Out?

  1. “Can I drink whey protein without working out?”– this is the question I’ve always wondered since I started taking supplements. I’ve never had a detailed answer. Thanks for this, Isaac.

  2. So, what happens if you drink protein without working out? You get fat!

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *