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Can You Drink Protein Shakes Without Working Out?

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three glasses of protein shake with a few scoops of protein powder, can you drink protein shakes without working out
David J. Sautter post Reviewer David J. Sautter post Reviewer
Verified by David J. Sautter
NASM Personal Trainer, NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist, ACE Sports Conditioning Specialist, NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist

Can you drink protein shakes without working out? Learn whether you would benefit from protein shakes, even if you don’t hit the gym.

Table of Contents

Are you sure that only fitness enthusiasts and athletes should indulge in this popular nutritional supplement? Well, it’s time to bust those myths wide open!

In this comprehensive article, we will explore the fascinating world of protein shakes, delving deep into what happens if you drink a protein shake without working out. Are there any side effects? Can it be beneficial for your health? And who exactly can benefit from incorporating protein shakes into their daily routine?

We understand that the world of nutritional supplements can be overwhelming and confusing, so we’re here to guide you through the science and benefits of protein shakes. 

Whether you’re a gym rat or just looking to improve your overall nutrition, we’re confident you’ll find the answers you’re searching for!

So, Can You Drink Protein Shakes Without Working Out?

You can still drink protein shakes even without working out, although the amount of protein you need depends on your activity levels.

Besides the differences in protein chain compositions and amino acid ratios, the proteins found in protein shakes and foods like chicken, eggs, or tofu are virtually the same.

Protein powders have been extracted from food sources and simply represent a more refined and isolated version of the latter, with higher bioavailability and rate of absorption. 

For these reasons, as well as thanks to their ease of consumption, protein shakes are fairly common among gymgoers. This category of people is more likely to consume protein shakes also due to their higher protein requirements, as they can find it difficult to meet them through eating food alone. However, these higher protein requirements don’t make protein shakes an exclusive product for athletes or bodybuilders.

How Much Protein You Need If You Don’t Work Out

Daily protein intake recommendations vary based on a series of factors, but the most important one is an individual’s level of physical activity. This is because muscles’ protein is catabolized during intense exercise to produce energy to sustain the efforts.

  • Sedentary adults should consume around 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight, which is 56 grams of daily protein for a 70 kg person. 
  • On average, active adults are suggested to consume 1.2 to 2.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, depending on their specific sport. This will ensure they can maintain a positive protein turnover. [1] [2]

For example, this means that a 70 kg gym-goer should be eating between 84 grams and 168 grams of protein a day.

The best way to achieve your protein requirements is from whole food sources. However, protein shakes can be a great aid when you have difficulty reaching your target.

5 Times When You Can Benefit From Protein Shakes Without Working Out

Below you can find some instances where you can still benefit from drinking protein shakes, even without working out or on your rest days.  

You Want to Lose Weight

Many people believe you should not drink protein shakes unless you are engaged in exercise or strenuous physical activity. However, when it comes to fat loss, this is far from the truth. 

Protein is a very important macronutrient for weight loss, as it supports satiety and helps you maintain your muscle mass during lower calorie intakes. [3]

Proteins are also the macronutrient with the highest thermogenic effect, which is the energy our body requires to break down a nutrient. [4] 

This means that our body uses more calories to break down protein than carbohydrates or fats, suggesting that protein-rich diets should be favored when aiming to lose fat. 

You may also like: Can You Drink Protein Shakes While Fasting?

You Need to Improve Your Nutrient Balance

Ideally, protein intake should come from whole foods, as they also provide other nutrients. 

Some people, especially those who tend to eat a higher ratio of foods coming from plant sources, may struggle with their protein intake in their diet. In these cases, having some occasional protein shakes can help you achieve your protein requirements. 

You Want a Healthy Meal or Snack Replacement

Protein shakes can make the ideal healthy snack or meal replacement if you want to eat less sugary and fatty foods. 

You can also blend protein shakes with either fresh or frozen fruit to make them even more nutritious.

You Want to Preserve Muscle Mass With Aging

As we age, we tend to develop sarcopenia, which is when our body starts to break down our muscles at a faster rate. 

However, drinking protein shakes can help you support your muscles as you get older, even without working out. 

Keep in mind that high protein intakes can only slow down muscle mass loss, whilst adding resistance training to the mix can prevent and hinder this process. [5]

You Want to Improve Your Recovery

Just as important as your pre-workout meals are your post-workout meals. 

The proteins that make up our muscles are broken down to generate energy during intense physical activity, so it is important to load up on protein-rich foods to regenerate the muscle tissues after you work out. 

In this regard, protein shakes are an ideal candidate for recovery, even on rest days, as they are usually highly bioavailable and easily absorbed by our bodies. This means they can promptly provide our muscles with a good amount of amino acids to help them recover. [6] [7]

Does Protein Build Muscle Without Working Out?

Very often, people question if protein alone builds muscle without working out regularly or if you need to practice resistance training to achieve that. 

Despite protein allowing you to maintain your current muscle mass or slow down its breakdown, eating heaps of this macronutrient is unlikely to make you gain more muscles if you don’t pair it with an appropriately designed resistance training plan. 

It is important to note that protein shakes do have the potential to make you gain weight if you overconsume them without working out. 

Wrapping Up

Protein shakes are a fantastic supplement that can benefit you even if you don’t train at the gym. Below you can find the key points about drinking protein shakes and when you can consume them without working out:

  • You can have protein shakes even without going to the gym, although athletic people may resort to them more often due to their higher protein requirements.
  • Ideally, aim to obtain your protein from food sources and only opt for protein shakes if needed.
  • Sedentary people are recommended to eat around 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight, compared to 1.2-2.4g of athletes and gymgoers.
  • Protein shakes are very common among active people, as they are easy to prepare and are highly bioavailable and absorbable.
  • If you are aiming to lose weight, you can benefit from drinking protein shakes as they aid satiety, prevent muscle breakdown during calorie deficits, and have a higher thermogenic effect than other macronutrients.
  • If you struggle to eat enough protein from food sources, then you can supplement your diet with protein shakes.
  • You can have a protein shake as a healthy option to replace unhealthy meals and snacks.
  • Protein shakes, especially if paired with resistance training, can be a great aid in preventing sarcopenia in aging people.
  • If you do work out, protein shakes are an ideal recovery aid during your rest days.
  • Protein shakes do not make you build more muscle if you don’t lift weights and can actually make you gain fat if you overconsume them.
Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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