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Should You Drink Whey Protein Every Day? (Expert's Opinion)

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: March 16, 2022

You’ll gain muscle faster if you consume more protein — but should you really drink whey protein every day?

We spent hours examining studies and consulting with a dietitian to find the answer.

Here’s what you need to know about the possible side effects of too much whey and how to prevent them.

Summary Of Our Key Findings

  • Checking the recommended dosage of protein from your diet is always a smart idea.
  • Manufacturers may add unhealthy ingredients to whey protein powders.
  • Side effects can occur if you consume whey in excess or without exercising.
  • Consume whey responsibly to stay healthy.

Can You Drink Whey Protein Every Day?

man thinking while holding up a bottle

You can drink whey protein every day if you’re not already getting enough protein from food. =

An average adult should consume 0.36 grams per one pound of body weight or 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram [1].

But you might need more if you’re trying to build muscle. In that case, shoot for 2g per kilo or 0.9-1g per pound of body weight.

You can use this information to calculate your ideal daily protein intake simply by multiplying your weight with the recommended dosage.

For example, if you weigh 170 pounds, you’ll need 61 grams of protein per day (170 x 0.36 = 61.2) if you aren’t building muscle and 170 grams of protein if you are (170 x 1 = 170).

Now, compare your protein needs with how much protein you’re getting from foods.

If you haven’t already exceeded the recommended dosage — which is highly unlikely —  you can drink a protein shake every day without any health risks.

In general, it’s recommended that you consume 1 - 2 scoops - or 25 - 50 grams - of whey protein powder a day [2]. But we’ve already said that you might need more or less depending on your body weight and nutrition, so don’t blindly follow this general rule.

Is Whey Protein Healthy?

Pure whey protein powder is healthy. Among other things, it equips your body with all nine essential amino acids that you may not be able to get solely from your diet.

Amino acids are good for all sorts of things — muscle gain being one of them. They encourage muscle protein synthesis, which helps in building muscle faster.

However, the safety of any protein powder depends on the manufacturers.

Here’s the thing: the FDA leaves it up to the manufacturers to evaluate the safety of their products and even label them.

So, it’s always possible that a powder contains some harmful ingredients that aren’t declared in the Nutrition Facts.

That’s why we recommend you choose a whey protein powder that’s been tested by an unbiased third party, such as ConsumerLab and USP. Their tests are more credible than those conducted by the manufacturers themselves.

Side Effects: Myths or Facts?

woman in back pain and a man with stomach pain

Let’s explore three side effects that are often linked to whey protein. We’ll try to examine whether they’re myths or facts by looking at the results of scientific studies on this supplement.

Kidney Damage

High protein intake can cause kidney damage, but only if you have a predisposed condition.

In that case, your kidneys may struggle to flush out excess protein, and this may lead to dehydration.

Otherwise, numerous studies have shown that moderate consumption of protein doesn’t affect healthy kidneys [3].

So, you should only avoid whey if you already have kidney issues. And, of course, you should avoid exceeding your recommended protein intake.

The verdict: A myth, unless you already have kidney issues.

Weight Gain

man squeezing his belly fat

However, some whey protein powders contain a lot of added sugar and have a high-calorie count.

Such products may cause you to put on a few extra pounds and increase your blood sugar, especially if you drink a protein shake every day.

But even if you use a powder with zero sugar, you might still gain weight if you consume it in high amounts [4]:

“Excess protein intake can lead to weight gain as the surplus protein in the body is stored as fat as it has nowhere else to go.” - Lina Velikova, MD, Ph.D., a Clinical Immunologist, Gastroenterologist, and medical advisor 

Again, taking protein supplements in moderation seems to be the key to preventing weight gain and promoting weight loss.

The verdict: A myth, unless you consume whey protein in excess.

Related: Best Protein Powders For Weight Loss

Liver Health

Science hasn’t linked whey protein powder to liver damage in people who exercise.

But one study showed that whey could hurt the liver when taken without working out [5].

When you don’t exercise, the protein from the supplement goes to the liver for processing instead of being used to build muscle. This can lead to liver injury.

So, if you want to avoid liver damage, you’ll have to combine your protein shakes with enough physical activity.

The verdict: Myth, unless you use whey without exercising

3 Common Mistakes To Avoid

man with a protein drink giving a thumbs down

You can drink whey every day, but try to do so responsibly.

Avoid these three common mistakes to stay healthy.

Don’t Swap Meals For Shakes

Protein supplements can never replace protein-rich foods. You should still consume a nutritious diet even if you’re taking a whey protein supplement every day.

You can get protein from foods such as:

  • Lean meats (beef, lamb, veal, etc.)
  • Poultry (chicken, turkey, goose, etc.)
  • Dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.)
  • Fish and seafood (fish, crab, lobster, etc.)
  • Eggs

Don’t Use Whey Concentrate

Whey concentrate undergoes less processing than whey isolate. That’s why isolate is a bit more expensive but much healthier — it has fewer carbs and less fat and lactose than concentrate [6].

To ensure you’re using a healthy protein supplement, opt for whey protein isolate instead of concentrate.

Don’t Ignore Nutrition Facts

woman reading a paper

Some protein powders contain a lot of added sugar, artificial ingredients, and common allergens.

Also, whey is based on dairy, so people who are lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy should avoid it.

Unfortunately, most people don’t bother reading the Nutrition Facts, so they don’t know what they’re putting into their bodies.

They might experience side effects as a result. If you want to avoid them, make sure to check the label before buying whey.

FAQs

Is It Ok to Drink Whey Protein Without Working Out?

Drinking whey protein shakes without working out may damage your liver in the long run, so we wouldn’t recommend it.

What Are the Symptoms of Too Much Protein?

Too much protein may cause nausea, irritability, dehydration, headache, diarrhea, and digestion issues [7].

Does Protein Make Your Skin Glow?

In a sense, yes - protein does make your skin glow. Protein is one of the main building blocks of skin tissue, so it’s vital for healthy and plump skin [8].

Should You Drink Whey Protein Every Day?

Not necessarily. The answer depends on how much protein you’re getting from your diet and whether you’re working out.

If you already meet your protein requirements through your diet, drinking whey may lead to side effects. And drinking it without exercising can lead to liver damage.

So, here’s our advice: stick to the recommended dosage of protein by tracking how much of it you’re already getting from your diet.

If you’re not exceeding recommended amounts and you’re regularly exercising, feel free to drink whey every day.


References:

  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-much-protein-do-you-need-every-day-201506188096
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/whey-protein-101
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21102327
  4. https://www.eatthis.com/protein-powder-dangers-every-day/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32702243/
  6. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/whey-protein-isolate-vs-concentrate
  7. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322825
  8. https://thebeautychef.com/blogs/blog/the-importance-of-protein-for-glowing-skin-hair-nails

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