How many calories is a protein shake with milk?

Protein shakes have become a popular nutritional supplement for athletes, bodybuilders, and anyone looking to increase their protein intake. Protein shakes are commonly made by blending protein powder with milk or water. Using milk rather than water provides additional nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin A. However, milk also contains more calories. So how many calories does a protein shake made with milk contain?

What is a Protein Shake?

A protein shake is a nutritional drink made by blending protein powder with a liquid such as water, milk, or juice. Protein powders are powdered forms of protein from sources like whey, casein, egg, rice, pea, or hemp. The most common types of protein powder used are:

  • Whey protein – comes from dairy and contains all the essential amino acids.
  • Casein protein – also dairy-based and digests slower than whey.
  • Plant-based proteins like soy, pea, hemp, or rice protein.
  • Egg white protein.

The protein powder provides high quality protein in an easily digestible form. Protein shakes are consumed for reasons like:

  • Building muscle mass – Protein is essential for muscle protein synthesis.
  • Recovering after exercise – Replenishes protein lost during workouts.
  • Weight loss – Protein is satiating and helps preserve muscle while dieting.
  • General health – Provides protein for bodily functions like producing enzymes.

By adding milk instead of water to a protein shake, you increase the calorie and nutrient content. Milk provides calcium, potassium, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin, phosphorus and high quality protein.

Calories in Different Types of Milk

The calories contained in a protein shake made with milk depends on the type of milk used. Here are the calorie and nutrient contents of some common types of milk per 1 cup (244g):

Whole Milk

  • Calories: 146
  • Protein: 7.9g
  • Carbs: 11g
  • Fat: 7.9g

2% Reduced Fat Milk

  • Calories: 122
  • Protein: 8.2g
  • Carbs: 11g
  • Fat: 4.8g

1% Lowfat Milk

  • Calories: 102
  • Protein: 8.2g
  • Carbs: 11g
  • Fat: 2.4g

Skim Milk

  • Calories: 86
  • Protein: 8.3g
  • Carbs: 12g
  • Fat: 0.2g

Soy Milk

  • Calories: 79
  • Protein: 6.0g
  • Carbs: 4g
  • Fat: 4.0g

Almond Milk

  • Calories: 39
  • Protein: 1.0g
  • Carbs: 1.5g
  • Fat: 2.5g

As shown, the calorie content ranges from 39 calories in 1 cup of almond milk to 146 calories in 1 cup of whole milk. Whole milk has the most calories because of its high fat content, while non-dairy milks like almond and soy milk are lower in calories.

Calories in Different Protein Powders

In addition to the type of milk used, the other main ingredient that affects a protein shake’s calories is the type of protein powder used. Here are the approximate calories in 30g of some common protein powders:

Protein Powder Calories (per 30g)
Whey Protein Concentrate 120
Whey Protein Isolate 100
Casein Protein 110
Egg White Protein 110
Soy Protein 110
Pea Protein 110
Hemp Protein 120
Brown Rice Protein 100

The minor differences in calories between protein powders is due to differences in how calorically dense the proteins are. As a general rule, whey protein concentrate tends to be higher in calories than whey protein isolate or plant-based proteins.

Calculating Calories in a Protein Shake Recipe

To calculate the total calories in a protein shake made with milk, you’ll need to know:

  • Amount of protein powder (in grams)
  • Calories per serving of protein powder
  • Type and amount of milk (in grams or ounces)
  • Calories per serving of milk

Then you can use this formula:

Protein powder calories + milk calories = Total calories

For example, for a shake with:

  • 30g whey protein concentrate (120 calories per 30g)
  • 8oz skim milk (86 calories per 8oz)

The calculation would be:

  • Protein powder: 30g x 120 calories/30g = 120 calories
  • Skim milk: 86 calories per 8oz
  • Total calories: 120 + 86 = 206 calories

So this protein shake made with 30g whey protein concentrate and 8oz skim milk contains approximately 206 calories.

Calories in Common Protein Shake Recipes

To give you a sense of how many calories are in typical protein shake recipes, here are some common combinations and their calorie contents:

Whey Protein Shake with Skim Milk

  • 30g whey protein – 120 calories
  • 8oz skim milk – 86 calories
  • Total: 206 calories

Plant Protein Shake with Almond Milk

  • 30g pea protein – 110 calories
  • 8oz almond milk – 39 calories
  • Total: 149 calories

Post Workout Recovery Shake

  • 30g whey protein – 120 calories
  • 8oz chocolate milk – 160 calories
  • 1 banana – 105 calories
  • Total: 385 calories

Weight Gain Shake

  • 2 scoops whey protein – 240 calories
  • 8oz whole milk – 146 calories
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter – 188 calories
  • Total: 574 calories

As you can see, calories in a protein shake can range from around 200 calories for a simple whey and skim milk shake, to over 500 calories when using calorie-dense ingredients like whole milk and peanut butter.

Tips for Reducing Calories in a Protein Shake

Here are some tips for reducing the calories in a protein shake if you are trying to lose weight or don’t need a high-calorie shake:

  • Use water instead of milk
  • Choose lower fat milk like 1% milkfat or skim
  • Use a plant-based milk like almond or soy milk
  • Use a lower calorie protein powder like whey isolate
  • Reduce protein powder serving size to 20-25 grams
  • Avoid adding calorie-dense ingredients like peanut butter or bananas
  • Use calorie-free sweeteners like stevia instead of sugar
  • Add ice to increase volume without adding calories

You can create a satisfying protein shake for 100-150 calories by using calorie-conscious ingredients. Just be mindful of your portion sizes.

Benefits of Adding Milk to Protein Shakes

Despite the extra calories, there are some benefits to making your protein shake with milk rather than water:

  • More protein – Milk provides high quality protein to complement the protein powder.
  • Essential nutrients – Milk provides calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin B12, potassium, phosphorus and riboflavin.
  • Better flavor – Milk makes a shake creamier and more flavorful than water.
  • Improved absorption – The fat in milk helps increase absorption and utilization of the protein.

The best approach is to choose reduced fat or lowfat milk options to keep calories in check while still benefiting from the valuable nutrients milk provides.

Should You Drink Protein Shakes Daily?

How often you consume a protein shake depends on your individual needs and goals:

  • Muscle building – 2-3 shakes per day to meet increased protein needs.
  • Weight loss – 1 shake as a meal replacement or snack.
  • General health – 1 shake per day is sufficient for most people.

Protein shakes can be a convenient way to increase protein intake if your diet is lacking. Most healthy adults can safely consume one protein shake daily as part of a balanced diet.

Are Protein Shakes a Complete Meal?

Protein powder is not a complete meal replacement on its own because it lacks carbohydrates, fat, fiber and some vitamins and minerals. However, by adding milk and/or fruit you can turn a protein shake into a more balanced, meal-like option. Some ways to make your shake more of a complete meal include:

  • Using milk instead of water
  • Adding nut butter for healthy fats
  • Adding oats or chia seeds for carbohydrates and fiber
  • Adding spinach or kale for nutrients and fiber
  • Adding fresh or frozen fruit for carbs, vitamins and antioxidants

You can customize your shake’s ingredients to create a perfect post-workout recovery meal or an on-the-go breakfast containing protein, carbs, healthy fats and fruits and veggies.

Potential Downsides of Protein Shakes

While protein shakes can be a healthy choice when used properly, there are a few potential downsides to watch out for:

  • High in calories – Especially if made with high calorie ingredients like whole milk and added sugars or fats.
  • Blood sugar spikes – Large amounts of whey protein can spike insulin levels.
  • Weight gain – Consuming more calories than you burn from shakes can lead to fat gain.
  • Reduced diet quality – Replacing too many balanced meals with shakes removes healthy whole foods.
  • GI distress – Some people experience bloating, gas or diarrhea from whey protein.

To avoid potential downsides, consume shakes in moderation as part of a healthy diet based on whole foods. Limit your intake to one or two shakes per day at most.


The calories in a protein shake made with milk can range from 200-600+ calories depending on the serving sizes and what ingredients are used. Choosing lower calorie options like water or skim milk allows you to maximize protein intake while controlling calories and fat. Protein shakes can provide protein, nutrients and a sense of fullness, especially when combined with fiber from fruit, greens, or other ingredients. For most people, one or two protein shakes per day as meal replacements or snacks can be part of a healthy, balanced approach to nutrition.

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