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What to Know About Protein Water

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 25, 2021

Protein water is one of the newest ways you can add protein to your diet. It's made by mixing protein powder in water.

You can buy it ready-made or buy the powder and mix it yourself.

Is protein water something you should add to your diet?

Protein and Your Body

There's no doubt that protein is good for you. It's one of the three macronutrients your body needs in large amounts.

Protein provides fuel for your muscles and your brain. In addition, protein helps you:

  • Build muscles, bones, cartilage, tissues, and skin in your body
  • Repair damage to your body
  • Digest food
  • Make new cells
  • Regulate your hormones
  • Carry oxygen to the organs in your body through your blood

Is Protein Water a Good Way to Get Protein?

Protein water is higher in protein but lower in calories than are some other forms of protein supplements. Most brands contain between 15 and 20 grams of protein and between 60 and 90 calories. It can be a better source of protein than some protein shakes because it usually doesn't have as much added sugar. 

However, you're better off getting your protein from healthy food sources than from protein water. Studies have shown that the exact amount of protein in your diet is not related to your likelihood of being healthier or living longer.

The source of your protein has more to do with its health benefits. Low-fat, whole-food sources of protein like beans, nuts, fish, or poultry can lower your chances of getting diseases, including:

Many people reach for protein water after a workout to help with recovery. Protein water can increase your protein intake, but it doesn't offer any of the nutrients and health benefits that come from whole foods.

It also doesn't provide you the amount of protein and carbohydrates that you need for exercise recovery. 

Do You Need Extra Protein?

While the makers of protein water and other protein supplements would like you to think you need extra protein, most adults in the U.S. get enough protein in their diet. People older than 70 and women under 19 are more likely to not get enough protein.  

The National Academy of Medicine recommends slightly over 7 grams of protein per 20 pounds of body weight. So if you weigh 160 pounds, you need about 56 grams of protein each day.

Protein should make up anywhere from 10% to 35% of your total calories. As you age, you naturally start to lose muscle mass. If you're trying to stop age-related loss of muscle, called sarcopenia, you may want to get to 1.5 to 2 times more protein than that you need. You may also benefit from more protein if you're exercising to build muscle.

Risks of Protein Water

Protein powders are powdered proteins extracted from milk, plants, or eggs. But, protein water or other protein supplements are rarely the best sources of protein because of several issues:

Added ingredients. Some protein powders have a lot of added sugar, which can raise your blood sugar considerably and cause you to gain weight.

Digestive problems. Milk-based protein powders can cause problems for people who are lactose-intolerant.

Long-term effects. There isn't enough data to know if there are possible risks or side effects of long-term use of protein supplements.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Harvard Health Blog: "The scoop on protein powder."

Harvard Health Letter: "The hidden dangers of protein powders."

Harvard Health Publishing: "When it comes to protein, how much is too much?"

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “Protein."

Texas Health Resources: "What Is Protein Water and Should You Be Drinking It?"

National Kidney Foundation: "Nutrition and Early Kidney Disease (Stages 1–4)."

Piedmont Healthcare: "Why is protein important in your diet?"

Washington State University: "NUTRITION BASICS."

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